Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramadan and what it means to YOU...

I have always enjoyed learning about other religions and their traditions... If it speaks to me, I  incorporate what I learn into my own practice in one form or another.  And if nothing else, I learn about my brother's and sisters from around the world which assists me in having more understanding and compassion for others. 

Ramadan starts this evening and as I understand it, this is what it's all about:

During the month of Ramadan, adult Muslims engage in ritual fasting from sunup to sundown. This practice, Sawm, is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex. Each evening, Muslims will break the fast at sundown with Iftar, a traditional meal often beginning with the eating of dates -- an homage to a practice of Muhammad.
In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations -- anger, cursing, greed, etc. As part of this, service to the community and to those in need is a major emphasis of activity throughout the month.
Sounds like a great practice...reminds me of Lent, growing up Catholic...the month before Easter we were supposed to give something up...most people gave up sugar or deserts or swearing or some other 'bad' habit they had...i'm not even sure why we did that or what was the purpose...sacrifice, I guess...

Ramadan appears to be a little more meaningful...fasting as a  means to forget the materialism and physicality of food, sex, drinking etc and focus on devotion and service to God and their communities.  And the additional fast of purging ones self of anger, greed, cursing and impure thoughts...I would add self-limiting beliefs, negative self talk, gossip...this is a wonderful thing to do.
Just think, a holiday to purge oneself of impure thoughts and motivations...a time set aside to ponder how you can better yourself, practice devotion to your diety of choice and perform acts of kindness and service to those in your community less fortunate than yourself!!! Beautiful!!

 Why not join whatever way this speaks to you. Take your family to work in the soup kitchen...clean up your language...quit smoking or whatever bad habit you may engage in that is less than optimum for your body temple. Or think of something you could let go of if only for a day...junk food, gossiping, drinking, smoking, negative self talk...whatever it is...something will come to you...try it for a day...then another...then another...maybe for the entire month of Ramadan...who knows where you could be in a month or the good you could accomplish.

Just pick may not be Muslim, but they've got something good going here, why not participate. We are ALL ONE and in being ONE, I've found that it is beneficial to embrace the positive traditions of other cultures...and if we don't feel like adopting other practices we can at least learn about them to increase our awareness and compassion. I learned something new about Muslims and I now have another area of connection and relatability. This knowledge assists in erasing stereotypes, judgements and hatred that exists in the world. This wisdom assists us in being one step closer to ONENESS with our fellow humans.
So in honor of Ramadan...I'm going to do my own fast tomorrow...Happy Ramadan, ALL!!