For Muslims all over the world today marks the end of the 4th day of Ramadan, the month that we all abstain from food an drink during the daylight hours. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere it is anywhere from 14 to 18 hours.
When you think about it, that seems harsh. In the summer heat with temperatures soaring upwards of 40 Celsius, why would any sane person subject themselves to this. The answer is simple, to be spiritually cleansed.
Obviously there are guidelines, for example children, the elderly, the sick and those who are travelling are exempt. So are women who are nursing and/or pregnant. But for the rest of us able bodied, it provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate the priorities of life.
1. I realised that I really do not NEED copious amounts of food and drink in a variety of forms from various places to survive. I calculated that between eating, cooking, carry out our family spent 8 hours a day on food related chores! I have gained back 8 hours of my life.
2. When your stomach is not stuffed, you actually have more energy to tackle your chores/work and you are more productive. My kids and I have set goals that we want to achieve by the end of the month (29 or 30 days depending on the Lunar calendar). They are not material goals, but spiritual – like my 9 year old’s goal is to stop reacting and actually listen to the other person.
3. I find myself spending more time thinking about those who are not as fortunate as myself. I find myself setting aside money for charity boxes, I find myself volunteering to help others. All this I would have never done before, when I was well fed, and content. There was no feeling of satisfaction that I have now.
4. I no longer feel deprived or taken advantage of. I am content with what I have. I am ready to accept and embrace my lot in life. No longer does the new car that my neighbour bought bother me. I actually truly feel happy for them and everyone who has more than I do. I feel compelled to help those who do not have anything.
5. Most importantly I have learnt that ‘que sera sera’…what will be will be. All I can do is make the best of any situation. If I want to be happy, I will be no matter if I end up in a cave on a deserted island somewhere (I pray I never do).
6. Pray everyday, whenever you feel overwhelmed or grateful, happy or inadequate. Pray everywhere, your connection to the Lord doesn’t have to be in a specific place or at a specific time, it can be right here, right now. Pray for everything, from your dream vacation, to your kids being safe, no prayer is too small or insignificant.
Carl Jung thought spirituality was an essential human need. I say spirituality can only be honed when you give yourself over to your Creator. I abstain from food, drink, cheating, lying, stealing, back biting, name calling, in fact any and all vices because I have developed a fear of being inadequate as a human, a mother, a wife – a person. There can be no higher consciousness, unless you truly, deep in your core, want for your neighbour what you desire for yourself.
With this underlying principle of spirituality, if we all move forward what a magnificent society we can carve and leave as a legacy for our kids. Utopia is attainable, if we behave the rest of the year like we program ourselves to behave in Ramadan. During this alchemical change we enjoy our new emerging spiritual selves, alas only to lose it in the rat race that eventually takes over our psyche. Let’s fight to remain our new Ramadan selves all year round.