Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Non-Muslim Celebrating Ramadan

Our alarm played classical music at 4:02 this morning, and so we awoke for breakfast before dawn. Though we are not Muslim, this will be my fifth year fasting for the month of Ramadan, and Martin, my husband's, fourth. The morning sky was filled with stars and a few clouds when I went outside for the newspaper. There was no hint of daybreak.

We had a simple breakfast: blueberries and cottage cheese, toast with olive oil and za'atar (Palestinian grandmothers say it makes you smarter!). Most important: a big glass of juice, followed by a big glass of water, then (for me) a cup of tea. It is such a long summer day ahead, and the fast for Ramadan will mean no food and no water until 8:07 p.m. this evening.

When I first decided to fast for Ramadan, I asked advice of two friends who are Muslim. One told me that the decision to fast must be personal and private. He advised me not to write or talk much about it. I choose to set aside his advice now because I would like to share what I have learned and continue to learn through this experience, and use it as a lens in these turbulent times to describe the many ways I will connect with people of various faiths in the month ahead.

Muslim readers will undoubtedly find our Ramadan fasting incomplete. Non-Muslims may be curious. I hope both groups will use this space to post comments and respond thoughtfully to questions.

"Ramadan Kareem" is one of the greeting one offers to Muslims at this time of year. Kareem is an Arabic word with positive meanings: decent, generous, kind, noble, honorable, precious, good, gentle, valuable, respectable, good-hearted and open-handed. I hope to describe how my Ramadan experience has been all of these.


Anonymous said...

I think that it's great that you are following Ramadan. Even though your fasting might not be for any particular religious reason. I am sure you are learning a great deal about yourself through this process and are gaining something out of it.

Lirun said...

join me on yom kippur as well.. a nice 26-7 hour slog of no food / drink / sex / leather shoes or perfumes.. :)