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Thursday, July 11, 2013

If you think that Ramadan is simply about the act of refraining from food and drink between sunrise and sunset, think again.

Yes, it is true that during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar—the month in which the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) received the first revelation of the Quran—Muslims refrain from food, drink, smoking and sexual activity from dawn through sunset each day. But truly, what is being given up is small when compared to what is being gained.
Ramadan is a time for reflection, introspection and spiritual growth that brings one closer to God. It provides a path for increased self-control and discipline. In addition, there is an intention for a deeper level of empathy andconnectedness to one another, especially to those less fortunate—serving as a spiritual catalyst for charitable actions.

It is a time to delve even deeper into the pursuit of living each day with right thought, right words and right deeds.

All of these attributes speak to the heart of who I am—the path I travel—and why I am so intrigued.
I had been contemplating observing Ramadan since 2008, but it is in this present moment—for reasons dear to me—I have decided this 2013 will be my first attempt at embracing this important pillar of Islam. Having discussed my intentions with my closest Muslim friends, and receiving a tremendous amount of their support and advice, I feel that I am well-prepared.
Dried dates. Check.
Athan app on phone. Check.

As far as what my personal experience will be, I will have to be patient to see how things manifest.

Interestingly though, I have noticed that the preparations are drawing from both sides of my brain. While part of me is focused on clearing my mind, contemplation, increased prayer and mediation—the other part of me is tapping into my indepth knowledge of nutrition to meticulously plan out my meal that will be eaten before sunrise each day. I teach yoga and am massage therapist, so I need to plan accordingly for my active lifestyle. A nutritionally dense and hydrating meal that will sustain me until the evening meal after sunset will be imperative.
I believe that Ramadan has the potential to enhance my spiritual journey in this life. I will try my best to be present, allowing my experience to unfold as it is meant to be and avoid holding on to any expectations. My heart and mind are open and I welcome any continued growth that emerges from this period of Ramadan.
As a non-Muslim, I am not alone in my interested in Ramadan.
As a matter of fact the Philadelphia Dialogue Forum has established a program call “Iftar with a Muslim Family,” that gives non-Muslims an opportunity to join a Muslim family for iftar, the special Ramadan fast-breaking dinner.
This is incredibly refreshing and beautiful to me, to see people so interested in coming together to share in something meaningful that has potential to be so transformative.