August 15, 2014
A few weeks ago, Muslims around the world celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, culminating the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. I was one of them. Now, I am not the most religious person at this point in my life. Actually, I question organized religion entirely (not God, before you religious types come at me). Organized religion. That’s it. Ironically, I will at this moment and forever more call myself a Muslim. Additionally, I will, as long as I am physically able, observe the fasting during Ramadan. You might say that’s a contradiction. I might agree with you, but while I don’t embrace ritualistic religion like I used to, I embrace the spirituality where I see it. That’s what Ramadan is for me, spiritual learning and growing.
Many people say to me: “How can you do that? I don’t see how you cannot eat or drink any water all day.” What they don’t understand is that it went beyond the physical for me long ago. The more you do it, the more a part of you it becomes. It’s part of me. I never choose to not do it because I feel weak or I don’t feel like it. I go for almost three mile hikes when I fast. I am just used to the physical aspect of it. That’s the only way I can explain it.
However, I’ve evolved in the spiritual aspect of it. I went from being constantly grumpy and snappish to setting an intention at the start of Ramadan. (Well, I’m still a bit grumpy and snappish, but I do watch the cursing). This year, I wanted to learn more about creating real change in my life.I prayed, meditated, and studied the Quran. One thing that came up and comes up again and again when I read the Quran is patience and perseverance. Many verses mention those two qualities. These ideas weave their way into my meditations. I find they are the antidote in many situations.
It’s not only that. In order to create change, you must actively direct your focus. If your focus is on what is not being done or done correctly, you don’t move forward. Awareness of a weakness or mistake is useful when you face it and accept it. But when you dwell on it, it becomes an obstacle. I have known this for a while but have not applied it in all areas of my life. I became more aware of those areas during this past Ramadan.
Some might ask, “How does the learning happen?” I can’t say specific moments when I learn what I want to learn. I just know that my awareness is heightened in many ways during this time. Lucky for me, this awareness is going beyond Ramadan. Which is what you want: to evolve. If you don’t evolve whether it’s in life or the actions you take in life, what’s the point?
That’s what Ramadan has become for me: an opportunity for evolution. I’ve started to realize every day is an opportunity for evolution. Religion should never be used as an excuse for stagnation. Rather, it should be a vehicle for illumination. So when I’m fasting, I may not be feasting on food. Instead, I’m feasting on knowledge.
Until next time…look behind and beyond the veil…
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer