Why on Ramadan
Time for Ramadan
Being born in Christian Orthodox family and while growing up in the south part of Ukraine, I had no particular religious preferences. However since childhood I like to read, so when was 8 years old read Bible for Kids, then went for the Old Testament and some part of New Testament (which was not as easy to understand and follow). Nevertheless this year I went for Ramadan for the last 12 days of it (starting June 24th and till July 6th).
According to the source (here), Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time of fasting for Muslims all over the world. Fasting shall be kept from sunrise to sunset for the period of one month. It is not allowed to eat or drink anything while sun is up. Ramadan is one of five pillars of Islam, and as it states in Chapter 2, Verse 185, of the Quran:
Make it rational
You can have your own reasons to experience it. In my case, there are few whys to go on Ramadan.
Everything starts from basic curiosity - how does it feel to be a Muslim? How is it not to eat and drink for the whole day? Can you survive?
It happens due to work to communicate intensively during the months of Ramadan with business partners in Middle East (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt) and frequently hear "you know, we are on Ramadan". The business was slower than usual, partially due to shortened working hours (until 2 pm). I wanted to understand better and deeper the culture of the Arab world and Muslim people.
The best way to figure our how is that - to be in other person's shoes - is actually step in those shoes. So I did.
What can you learn?
"Fasting is intended to educate the Muslim in spirituality, humility and patience."
First of all, appreciate more what you have and can afford. When you are hungry and seeing other people having lunch, - you restrain yourself and patiently wait till 19:15 to get the meal. Once you get that meal - it is such a joy to eat and satisfy this basic need. Subjective theory of value explains why for scarce goods (in this case - food) people are willing to pay more (by valuing and appreciating it more). However it can be applied not only to appreciation of the food, but also to other areas of your life.
Secondly, it can be considered as an exercise to train your willpower. It is when you choose not to drink water, although you have been hiking for two hours under hot sun in highly humid-like-in-sauna Hong Kong weather and seeing those happy people enjoying coconut juice in abundance. This is when you say yourself NO despite high temptation and risk to become a mummy before the sun is down.
Thirdly, understanding life of Muslim people because partially you live in a way like Muslim people live. In my case I woke up before sunrise to eat something and then go back to sleep. Sometimes I woke up after the sunrise (sunrise in Hong Kong is at 5:45 am and I'd be awake at 5:50 am). What's then? Well, it was proved empirically that life without food and water for around 20+ hours is possible. Also I read and learned more about Muslim culture. We have an intern, who is Muslim and he also shared some knowledge and insights on a way how they live.
And lastly, although I am not sure how to define spirituality, but certainly it helped to become more mindful and feel more connected in a broader sense.
At one of the mornings I went to the Kowloon Mosque in Tsim Sha Tsui to observe people. Also I prayed in a way how Muslims do. I tried to understand and imagine what would they pray about. It was such a surprise to find some snoring people in the Mosque .. they were just sleeping (but some others were praying). And in fact after some praying time I fell into a sleep there as well (being on knees and with head down to the floor). Such an experience.
There is no difference on what people wish and desire in their life and life of others. It is universally normal and common. In fact, Quran shares same stories and ideas which we can find from the Bible. It is just happened that Muslim people believe Quran is "purer" than Bible, because Bible was modified by humans several times later, but Quran was revealed from the word of Allah.
Without getting religious, I believe it is good to practice fasting as well as do Zakat (charity) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Certainly it helps to understand other people and yourself.