Today is the last day, in which I can indulge my body and my mind in their petty habits and frivolities. Today is the last day in which being simply human suffices as an excuse not to seek transcendence towards an ideal, which is all the more desirable for being unattainable. Today, I will not revel or indulge myself, but I will seek to be more self-aware, so that I can prepare myself to give up the things that don’t matter for the things that do.
Ramadan begins tonight at sunset, according to the lunar Fatimid calendar, and so tomorrow (August 21st) I will undertake my first fast. The majority of muslims, who rely on moonsighting rather than astronoical calculation, will undertake the first fast the following day, on August 22nd. Regardless of which accepted method used, it is assured that tonight, the thought of Ramadan lies both heavily and lightly upon a billion muslim minds. Heavily because of the daunting task that lies ahead, in terms of fasting but also the additional burden of piety that we all will seek to embrace willingly. Lightly, because in many ways, Ramadan is freedom, a statement of defiance from the mundane worries of the world, a release in which our concerns are focused on a higher state of being and of living than the mere mortal plane.
Soon, it begins, and we are trembling with anticipation.
“Luminous beings are we, Luke, not this crude matter” – Jedi Master Yoda
Related – some pre-Ramadan reading: my discussion last year about the perennial moonsighting vs calendrical debate for determining the start (and end) of Ramadan. Also at Beliefnet there’s a gallery of Ten Prayers for Ramadan and Ten Tips for Fasting Healthfully and Spiritually.