Ramadan Redux: Why I’m Doing It Again

I am blogging through Ramadan again, but at a new site: http://www.forthecommongreat.com.

I hope you will follow me through these 30 days of fasting again. Here is the first post from that site:

 

I’m not a sadomasochist. Really.

I don’t have a martyr’s complex either. I do not enjoy suffering.

With that off my chest, here’s my big news: I’m observing Ramadan again this year.

The experience last year was transcendent; I have never done anything so liberating, both socially or spiritually. (Feel free to peruse last year’s Ramadan posts, at www.newmethofesto.com.)

But there were some, shall we say, “side-effects.” Not everyone in my religious tribe was thrilled about my choice. There was backlash and resistance. That was painful. I have no desire to repeat any of that.

Things have changed since last year. I am in a different phase of ministry now, and am looking forward to observing Ramadan again. Put another way, I am free to pursue justice and make shalom with anyone who wishes to do the same.

I made it known last year that I wanted to fast for two reasons: one, to develop the spiritual discipline of fasting; and two, to stand in solidarity with American Muslims who struggle for acceptance and community. I wouldn’t say I “mastered” the Ramadan fast, but I did survive it. And I would like to go even further — I want to try again to live in the constant presence of God. I want to continue to push myself, to more wholeheartedly embrace the discipline of letting go, giving up, abstaining from.

Even more important, however, I need to continue to stand side by side with Muslims in my community. My experience last year revealed to me that a great number of Americans continue to hold misguided, uninformed, and dangerous opinions about Islam and its practitioners. I learned that too many Americans allow Fox News to tell them who their neighbor is.

If anything, Muslims need our support more than ever. As a person of faith, I have so much more in common with them than practically any other kind of person in our culture. My faith is enriched when I make real and vital connections with other people of faith, no matter what their particular faith looks or feels like.

I’m sad that Yaseen Sheikh no longer lives in my community; he moved to Baltimore earlier this year to take a new position at an Islamic school. But last year’s experience helped me make many new friends, like Nadim Bashir, the imam of East Plano Islamic Center, Amanda Quraishi of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, and countless others.

I will blog about Ramadan, of course, on a daily basis. I hope you will decide to follow along. This year, I plan to focus on the theme of justice and shalom, as they interrelate in Christian and Islamic tradition.

I fast, finally, For the Common Great.

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6 comments

  1. djdfr

    It is easier for me to follow and comment here. We are fasting also along with our brothers/sisters in the family of Abraham.
    I am blessed to be able to do this, I remind myself when another voice says this is stupid. :-)

  2. DALIA

    Hi Wes its amazing you are repeating the experience. I was born a muslim but began to truly discover it in the past 3 years. Once my cousin said to me when I was a child I thought God was a cloud and she asked what did I think he was? I couldn’t answer the question at that time and thought about it for days. Finally I realized that when I was a child I was very spiritual, I sort of just felt his presence in my heart. Everything I did I thought about him. He was not a separate entity that I had to try to picture what he was, my answer was finally that I was part of him and he was part of me. My cousin grew up to be a communist and furthest away from him as you could imagine. I could see how unhappy and lost she was but would never admit it.
    So with this thought in mind I started to feel Ramadan more than just a fast. What an amazing month,I laugh inside when people worry about it as physical fasting. My feeling about it is like leaving this world to enter a different world of quite and calm. Few blessed days that we as humans are privileged to even be able to observe. I feel like I am inside this perfect size room with just the perfect light coming in and the right temperature. I pray more for some strange reason and read more from the quran than usual. To prove it I noticed that during other times outside this month all types of worship is so much harder to keep up with. I keep asking myself why Ramadan, I dont understand. Why do I wake up for Fajur prayer so energized when a day before Ramadan I did not. Why I can give up that wonderful cup of coffee in a heartbeat for Ramadan. For me I do everything I did during a normal day including working out as if nothing changed. I work my 10 hours shift with a smile and keeping everyone around me happy. My conclusion is that these are no normal calendar days Wes, I always felt things in my heart and I can feel this too.
    When Ramadan is over here is what I feel, suddenly the perfect size room has windows and they open up bringing in more light than needed, I can hear the noise too coming from the streets outside, like that blessed feeling is gone. Now God says you are on your own, I brought myself and blessings to you for a few days. Now try to keep finding me, try to keep getting closer, it will be a lot harder, but keep remembering how you did it during those blessed days. Maybe you could keep up. But no feeling ever comes closer to what I feel during this month for many days in a raw.
    We are privileged to observe this month and for a chance to be in his presence.

    • Ruqayyah

      ASA, one of the most beautiful descriptions of this month I have ever read. Thank you. I am going to save it, Insh.

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