This blog is the first installment of my month-long series, "Ramadan Reflections." As I observe the fasting, I'll take you on the journey of my meandering musings. Happy Friday!
As I have said many times, I am not a religious person. I identify as Muslim, but I practice in a more spiritual rather than ritualistic way. I lovingly refer to myself as Muslim light. I don't always pray or read the Quran, but I do practice compassion wherever I can.
For most of my life, I have been judged for not following tradition in religion. It used to bother me, but I am finally in a place where I fully embrace my refusal to place rigid ritual over heartfelt practice.
Finding meaning in ritual
At the same time, the ritual that I have practiced my whole adult life is fasting during Ramadan. Despite it being a traditional custom, it is deeply spiritual for me. At the beginning of the month, I set an intention for what I want to learn from fasting.
More than anything, Ramadan has always been about how I can grow. The physical abstention from food and drink forces me to shift my focus away from what's in front of me to what's in me. That is a powerful thing that I cherish.
As I approach the end of Week One, I am writing this blog in a haze of sleep deprivation and hunger. Still, I am finding a new joy in prayer that I haven't experienced before.
Part of the reason I am not a big fan of rituals is because of how I was taught them, through fear. To put it simply, if you don't practice, you're going to hell. If you make a mistake, your prayer is not accepted. What's the point of doing it then if it's not accepted?
No matter what your faith is, it's an unfortunate cycle that, sometimes, gets passed on. Since Muslim prayers are in Arabic, I'm almost sure I don't pronounce a lot of words correctly. With salat, in particular, I've always had a preoccupation with doing it "right" rather than enjoying my communication with the Almighty.
Now, more than any time in my life, I bask in illumination instead of micromanaging myself as I go through the process. Someone once told me, "God's just happy that you're there."
I am finally in a place where I am taking those words to heart. God, Allah, whatever you want to call him is happy that I showed up. But, now, I am, too.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer