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Ramadan: Fasting is something we have in common

A few years back I spent Ramadan with a group of Saudi Arabian men visiting the US. My job was to provide them with some training they would take back and incorporate into their duties. Due to the schedule we kept Ramadan in America was particularly difficult for them. They all smoked like chimneys but didn’t during Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. They used the official time of sunset too. They checked each day to see when it officially went down and lit up a cigarette the moment they could. That was more important than food.

I had the privilege of spending Eid al-Fitr with them as well which includes a great feast to mark the end of Ramadan. It was the first time I ate certain foods which I came to love and now eat whenever I can. “The Ramadan fast, in which food and even a sip of water is prohibited, is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of those less fortunate. It is also a chance to kick addictions like caffeine and cigarettes. While fasting, Muslims must also abstain from sex, gossip and cursing. Muslims are encouraged to spend time in contemplation, prayer, reading the Quran and charity during the day.”

Because Ramadan was so difficult for them, being away from home and keeping an odd schedule, I pointed out that the Koran does say they can skip fasting when on a journey far from home. But, to their credit, America wasn’t a far enough journey for them. In broken English they each said, “No, no, we do this.” I’m not sure how spiritual an experience it was for them. They certainly didn’t act like it was. They were “hangry” all the time, “jonesing” for a cigarette, and thirsty in the heat of day. It made them all incredibly lazy – or better said – unenergetic. But when it was mealtime I could tell the experience made them appreciate what they had much more. When it was over they did all express what was obviously a sincere gladness that they had done it.

Fasting is a part of most religions including Christians, Jews, and Hindu among the Muslims. It’s a common connection that we can appreciate. Not eating, then eating, and being glad when we can, is about as human as it gets. If you have Muslim friends, I encourage you to talk to them about Ramadan so you can gain an appreciation of what it means to them. You will learn something and draw closer to them. If you’re lucky they will invite you to break the fast with them and enjoy some food even they usually eat only once a year.

The Ramadan fast, in which food and even a sip of water is prohibited, is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of those less fortunate. It is also a chance to kick addictions like caffeine and cigarettes.ADVERTISINGWhile fasting, Muslims must also abstain from sex, gossip and cursing. Muslims are encouraged to spend time in contemplation, prayer, reading the Quran and charity during the day.

Source: Muslims prepare for dawn-till-dusk fasting as Ramadan begins | Daily Mail Online

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