Ramadan is an Islamic holiday observed by 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. It is a time of heightened spiritual practice and self-reflection. During this time all Muslims are required to abstain from food and water, from sunrise to sunset (called fasting or swam). Ramadan begins at the sighting of the new moon and will last this year from April 23rd to May 23rd. Muslims believe it was during this time (9th month on the lunar calendar), that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). This is a time of deep spiritual practice and devotion to an individual’s relationship with God. It is also a time to increase charity (zakat).
I currently live in the United States and have been Muslim for almost 20 years, and have celebrated Ramadan each year. Each year has been a different experience. During the quiet years, I stayed home, read Quran, prayed, and took long slow walks in nature. During the busy years, I hiked in Ecuador, moved between apartments, and worked full-time. Throughout all the years I maintained my fast (an average of 12.5 hours a day). Ramadan in a non-Islamic country can be a bit lonely (especially in a hustle-and-bustle city like New York); Everyone and everything is always functioning at top speed. You, on the other hand, are moving through the world like honey being squeezed out of a bottle. S-L-O-W. You encounter people yelling, car horns honking, the food you can’t eat and water you cant drink. Sometimes you want to yell to the masses ‘SLOW DOWN! IT’S RAMADAN AND I’M FASTING’! but you can’t, and even if you did, who in the world cares? So, you learn how to tune-out and turn-in. This was one of my first Ramadan life lessons.
The world around us will always prove to offer major distractions. The amount of information we all have at our fingertips is overwhelming! It’s hard not to go online or read the paper, and not get absorbed in what’s going on. COVID-19 is real and it’s out there. I heard someone say that it’s the end of the world. Really? I’m thinking, maybe it’s a new beginning.
A different perspective is that the earth is giving humans, a much-needed solitude to heal. If you go to any park you will notice that the planet is doing just fine. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and things are continuing as normal. According to CNBC ‘Air pollution has dropped to unprecedented levels across the world as major cities and countries impose lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus‘ Michelle Fournet, a marine ecologist at Cornell had this to say: “Nature is taking a breath when the rest of us are holding ours.”
This is also happening at a time when, three religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) are all participating in their major spiritual holidays. This April amidst the current situation, Lent, Easter, Passover, and Ramadan all took place. The traditions might be different but on a fundamental level, the message is the same. The world around you will go on, take some time to tune-in and reflect. I wish you peace.
the life of the world is merely the enjoyment of delusion. The Quran 3:185