By: Brittney Schering, Regular Contributor
Image courtesy of Brittney Schering
With Ramadan starting, it is best to take a moment of not only observation, but also of great respect for those undergoing the month of major sacrifice.
A few years ago while living and working/writing in the heart of New York City, I had the wonderfully eye-opening experience of dating a Muslim guy, and he went home to Saudi Arabia to celebrate Ramadan with his family.
With thanks to the wonders of Skype, I got to experience the extremity— the fasting, prayers, and sacrifices— endured during this religious period. Let me just tell you, as a traditional Roman Catholic, Lent has nothing on this.
We (Catholics) whine and complain about having to give up one thing we enjoy for 40 days and the hassle of not having meat on Fridays. It is funny and ironic now that I have witnessed firsthand all that comes with Ramadan and the honorary commitment to the season is something to shine light on. It is exceptional, yet I still complain when Ash Wednesday rolls around and another season of Lent is upon us.
Despite religious background or beliefs, as the holy month of Ramadan begins at sunset this evening, I believe it is best to become educated on why Muslims do what they do during this time. Not only to know, but to maybe learn a thing or two and perhaps even attempt to join in on the commitment to cleansing your soul and yourself.
“Ramadan elevates you spiritually,” said Zainab Chami of Dearborn to the Detroit Free Press. As a 29-year-old high school teacher, she went on to say, “There’s a spiritual reawakening. The feeling is indescribable.”
During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. As the days of summer are much longer than those of winter, and heat is a factor, this portion of the month is a great challenge in and of itself.
“Fasting is a way to keep Muslims focused on their faith,” said Chami. “I become more patient. I’m calmer, more tranquil, more serene. I feel closer to my creator.”
Bilal Dabaja, 28, of Dearborn, described Ramadan as “the month of self-improvement, where you build your character, your immunity to desires.”
It is a time for Muslims to “return to God, who is the source of everything, whether it’s health, happiness, peace or wisdom,” said Imam Mohammad Elahi, a religious leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom. “We repair our relationship with the divine through fasting and prayer.”
Perhaps others from various backgrounds may decide to join in on the recreation of faith and spirituality that is Ramadan. It’s quite the major sacrificial season of Islamic faith, but it is one to really admire and watch as your friends of Muslim backgrounds become essentially born-again. Intriguing, isn’t it?
Happy Ramadan to all of my friends who celebrate, including the guy from a few years back who taught me all about it. I am grateful to say that we are still friends and will always be despite the mileage in between Saudi Arabia and LA.
About Brittney: Brittney Schering is a writer and full-time nanny in LA. She contributes to multiple publications and maintains two blogs; one personal, the other on life as a nanny. Schering is passionate about compassion, positivity, creativity, and children's best interests. She holds a Bachelor's degree in professional writing.