i-dates-medjoolRamadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak, Happy Ramadan, Ramadan Greetings.. These, and variations of these greetings will have been shared across the globe over the last 24-48 hours, as the Muslim month of Ramadan begins.

With 23% of the world’s population identifying as Muslim, that’s about 1 in 5 people in the world that will be participating in the annual tradition of fasting.

As someone born into a Muslim family, I grew up with the tradition and practice of fasting, as a young child keeping ‘half’ day fasts, in my youth (really only not eating or drinking anything until lunch time), before being allowed to keep a ‘full’ fast on the weekends.. Gradually we were allowed to keep fasts during the weekdays, and eventually we started to fast the whole of Ramadan.

As a celebrated and special part of the year, I was brought up excited, and eager to fast each year. It was something that only the adults did, and as a child, keen to show our growing maturity we eagerly wanted to join in, and be like our elders, fasting for the whole month of Ramadan, observing the practice of abstaining from food, and water during the daylight hours.

I remember how fasting was a special time of year, as in the mornings, the whole family would wake up before sunrise, to eat something, before the fast of the day began, and then in the evening, we’d all gather, sometimes with relatives, cousins, and family friends, and break our fast together. and other times, we’d sneak a date into our mouths during lectures, classes, or whilst at work, drinking a bit of water with our dates, to break our fast, before stepping away from the desk, to properly eat something.

I’ve experienced fasting at University, away from everyone, and all alone, and after a few years, realising there were other Muslims at the uni, and that I didn’t have to observe the whole of Ramadan entirely on my own. I spent a Ramadan in Switzerland, in San Francisco, and in South Africa. Each time discovering different, and special traditions in each local area, as well as learning a little bit more about myself in each different country, surrounded by different communities of people.

When I was in San Francisco, I was staying with Bill and Lynne Twist, observing Ramadan in their home, and was priviledged to be able to share a Ramadan with them. It was a real pleasure, and a gift, for it was the first time that I had ever met friends, or people of any kind, for that matter, that weren’t Muslim, but observed the fast of Ramadan as diligently as any Muslim I knew, when it came to the abstinence of food and water. Their reason was that they chose to fast, in solidarity with the millions of Muslims around the world that were fasting.

That there will be people out there fasting, who barely have enough to eat, on a good day, and that there are people out there who may break their fasts, with water, and go to bed hungry makes me determined more than ever to do all I can to strive for creating a world where everyone has enough food to eat, that they don’t have to experience hunger, other than through choice, and abstinence.

I pray that this Ramadan be a blessed month for everyone of my family, friends, brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and every member of my extended family, in the brotherhood of humanity. With each coming year, I pray that I’m able to contribute and make a difference in the lives of a few more families, and able to cleanse, and purify myself a little bit more, so that we each can share in the abundance of food, that exists on this planet.

Like my friends Bill and Lynne, who observe the monthly fast of Ramadan, for no reason, other than because they can, I extend an invitation to each of you reading this, to take up the practice of fasting. If you’re able to make the commitment, I invite you to spend the next lunar month, abstaining from food and water, alongside the many Muslims who will be fasting. I invite you to wake up before sunrise, and have a meal, ahead of Suhur (the start of the fast, and Fajr prayer time), and I invite you to break your fast at the time of Iftar (Sunset, or Maghrib prayer time). For those of you in London, you can find a timetable you can use here: http://www.salahtimes.com/uk/london/ramadan

If you do decide to observe the month of Ramadan and fast, then let me know, and let’s break our fast together. I’ll be happy to introduce you to the myriad of dimensions of fasting, not least the mental, and spiritual clarity that you get to experience when you start to spend less time eating, and more time reflecting on, and remembering your purpose for being alive, and rediscovering your relationship with your creator, or divine inspiration.

Basics of Ramadan:
No food, drink, or water, during daylight hours.
No physical intimacy with a spouse or partner during daylight hours.
No negative or degrading, or belittling thoughts about yourself, or anyone else.
No harsh words, rude manners, or obscene behaviour towards any others.
Be as kind, loving, generous, giving and nurturing as you can be to all the people and to yourself as you can be.

I look forward to sharing more of my experiences, and reflections, as this month progresses, and learning and hearing from those of you who are fasting alongside me, or joining me for the first time in the month of Ramadan.

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One Comment to “An invitation to fast for the next lunar month.”

  1. […] in the interests of education…this month is Ramadan. Some of the principal rules for Muslims particularly at this time of year […]

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