June 29, 2016


*Full transparency here, I only fasted for one day of Ramadan and not the entire month that is customary for Muslims.  

For those that do not know, Ramadan is observed by Muslims all over the world as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad and is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It takes place in the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar and lasts from sun rise to sun set. During that time one must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations. It sounds intense, and it is but really to me it is just a way to clear your mind from distraction and reflect. 

My good friend Deema who is Muslim has been a trooper this month as she fasts and I wanted to support her any way I could. I knew it would not be easy as the days are long here in Newcastle, sunrise is at 445 right now and sunset is at just about 10 pm. Our friend Kate gave me the idea as she decided to give a day and fast about 2 weeks ago. It had never occurred to me to actually participate in Ramadan because I just assumed I could not. I have always had friends who are Muslim so I have heard of Ramadan and knew that they couldn't eat but that was just about all I knew. I have flashbacks to my Gap days and working with my friend Nesli and the warnings she used to give us (GIRL I GET IT NOW). I always tried to be conscious of their experiences and be respectful as well but this year, and with Kate's help I wanted to fully connect and not just offer up kind words. 

I was HUNGRY! I completely forgot to eat the pre-fast meal so my stomach was super empty. I felt tired in the day and a bit light headed at times too. I had gone to the store in the evening to grab food for dinner and bought some cookies, when I tell you my mouth actually watered when I opened that package it is not an exaggeration.  Overall it was a very eyeopening experience, after the initial waves of hunger passed I was able to get to business as usual but I quickly started to reflect on my position. I thought wow, yes I am thinking about all the food right now in my fridge but at least when this is over I have access to food. I think it's funny how you do not think about your blessings until you lose them. So participating in Ramadan made me realize that I need to be thankful for my blessings, actively and consciously more often. I think so often as a young woman I get caught up in what others are doing and achieving and it traps me into a negative space but this processes helped clear my head quite a bit. I am going to try and look to it when I find myself on the self-doubt downward spiral (like the one I had today). 

Deema and I made dinner together and waited for 9:50 to come where we broke fast and had a meal. Then we had the most amazing conversation about life, religion, and the human experience.  I would encourage everyone to considering fasting, especially if you have Muslim friends. Let them know that you care about them and their experience. I think that from here on out I am going to participate at least one day each year. I think in the times that we are having now in both the UK and the US what we really need is more ways to understand thy neighbor and experience life through their lens. 

Ramadan Mubarak, everyone!

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