As we enter the second week of Ramadan, hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world continue to fast as a prescribed spiritual practice in the Islamic faith tradition. Last year, as a part of an ongoing journey within the interfaith movement and my own spiritual formation, I chose to participate in this month long act of spiritual observance. This year I chose to follow the practice again because of the powerful affect it had on me. Only this year, something feels different about the experience. Something feels off, unnatural, and confusing. So, on Sunday night, I decided to stop my observance of Ramadan. But, why? What changed?
By highlighting the benefits of my experience with Ramadan from last year and the subsequent changes it brought about it my life throughout the last year, I may begin to arrive at an answer. Ramadan profoundly changed my life last year. It has been by far the most powerful spiritual month of my life. It taught me about the relationship between food and drink and spirituality. It gave me the tools to eat more ethically and compassionately. This month also gave me a greater reverence for the mystery and beauty of the divine, the sacred source of all life. Read the rest of this entry
“This article was originally published on the DePaul Interfaith website on March 1st, 2011″
Life is often circular. Things come and go. The seasons rage and pass every year, as does the sun, which rises and sets each morning and night. Humans, too, can show patterns in their actions. It has been more than six month since I began fasting for the month of Ramadan in mid-august. The experience was phenomenal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My body, mind, and soul were reawakened to the purpose of sacrifice, thankfulness, and global family. Ramadan, as I soon learned, was about being conscious, aware of the unjust realities that surround us, as well as the beautiful gifts that are shared with us everyday. Conscious consumption is the most ethical consumption, not just of food, but of all we come across in our lives. Utility is a blessing and that which is used must be treated as such. While one stomach remains hungry, all humans remain hungry. These were some of the lessons I learned during my experience with Ramadan.
Unfortunately, the most common of our human patterns is forgetfulness. The month of Ramadan was unbelievable. The weeks following, I was on my game, remaining conscious and living thankfully. As time went, though, I began to fall into my old habits; I began to return to a culture of unconscious consumption. My portions grew in size, my thoughts before, during, and after a meal were rarely on being thankful for sustenance or on my fellow human beings who would go to bed that night with empty bellies. I didn’t notice, however; I was in community with others who were just like me: asleep. Read the rest of this entry
“This article was originally published on the DePaul Interfaith website on October 1st, 2010″
In my faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism, a large emphasis is placed on walking upon our spiritual life paths with others who are “different” from ourselves. It is reasoned that through connecting with people from different life journeys, we will receive deep spiritual nourishment and enlightenment through that encounter. Growing up I have learned about the major world religions, about their rituals and holidays, and even participated in some of these traditions. Now, as I enter my senior year, I am walking on a new path, one that is inevitably shifting the way I view my relationship to myself, others around me and around the world, and the divine. This is the path of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. As such, anyone who is not Muslim should look to it with a sense of respect. I have wanted to travel beyond just knowing about the “rules” of Ramadan, to actually experience it first-hand. After talking with some of my Muslim friends about it, I decided to take a leap of faith into the month long journey of fasting and revelation. Read the rest of this entry