As we enter the final week of Ramadan I thought it might be nice to ask Inside Out team members Mazeena and Rakiya to share their thoughts on what this special time in the Islamic calendar means to them.
Fasting is perhaps the thing most of us associate with Ramadan. I find it interesting that many spiritual practices recommend fasting, here Mazeena explains why this is so important…
“I remember someone asking me why we put our body through such cruelty by fasting for almost 18 hours every day for a month.
As a Muslim, Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Anyone who has reached puberty and is healthy enough to fast must observe it. There are many scientifically proven benefits of fasting, however to me, it’s benefits are far more reaching. It is a month of piety, focus, a time for cleansing our physical and spiritual body, and reflecting upon how truly fortunate we are. By staying away from food and drink from dawn till dusk, it draws our mind to the less fortunate and makes us grateful for things like water which we take for granted.
It’s not just our physical body that fasts, we have to fast with our limbs and tongue, by refraining from obscene language, lying, back biting – things that decrease the reward of fasting.”
Rakiya adds that “It is about truly cleansing your body from the toxins in your life. For me, trying to cut down on chocolate and biscuits.” She added a smiley face here☺I think I could do with a few less of these too! She also appreciates that “As meal times are together, I love the fact that I have more time with my family. There’s nothing quite as great as sitting around the table with the people you love, over a meal you are very thankful for.”
Another important aspect of Ramadan is that it is also the month of kindness, a time for donating to charity and also by the giving of compulsory alms (zakat) whereby a Muslim is asked to give 2.5% of their savings to the less fortunate annually.
For both Rakiya and Mazeena it is a spiritual time. Here Rakiya reflects “For me personally it is a time for sitting in contemplation and prayer. It’s a great time to take some time out of our busy schedules to reflect on our surroundings and appreciate all this world has to offer. It is also a time to reflect on what good I can do for humanity. A time to re charge my batteries spiritually.”
Mazeena has similar thoughts and is able to weave in her yoga practice too, as she explains here…”During this holy month, we try to improve our relationship with our creator, by increasing in worship. If you are a Yogi and if you have seen a Muslim pray, you will notice that our prayer consists of a series of postures which are very similar to some Yoga postures. We recite the same Arabic words in each prayer trying to connect with our creator. I believe that if Muslims prayed 5 times a day as we are supposed to, by understanding what we are saying, we would be one of the most peaceful people in the universe. You might think of it like meditating and doing Yoga 5 times a day for 10 minutes each!”
Reading Mazeena’s and Rakiya’s reflections on this special time, it strikes me that it is about focusing on the qualities of love, peace, gratitude and charity, through quiet time and contemplation. Surely something we all strive for. Of course we all have our own traditions, rituals and paths to follow, but ultimately we all want the same thing.
I would love to hear about your thoughts on the themes discussed here, and if you would like to tell us about a practice or spiritual time that is important to you please do share.