Hungry for Ramadan

Hungry for Ramadan

Regaining Control: The First Fast

grocery_store.jpgIn the next few weeks I will be telling you about how spiritually uplifting Ramadan is, and about how I’ve been able to clear my body and mind in order to connect with my Creator. I will share the experience of breaking the fast communally with other Muslims over fresh dates and the most delicious glasses of water I have ever tasted.
But right now, I’m not feeling any of that. I am too distracted by the pull of my shrinking stomach.
As you might imagine, the first days of fasting take some getting used to. You start to realize what a central place food and drink has in one’s life. As soon as you wake up, your reflexes guide you straight for the refrigerator. You might even mistakenly pull your car up into your local Starbucks on the way to work. And God help you if you are a serial snacker–your hand will be continually reaching out for a phantom snack bowl.


It’s a good idea to avoid shopping for groceries during daylight hours in Ramadan. Apart from unnecessarily torturing yourself, you’ll end up spending twice your average grocery bill as you load your cart with things you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. Fasting has a way of making even the most mundane of foodstuffs look like ambrosia.
If you haven’t prepared yourself by doing a few practice fasts during the previous month, you’re in for a cold-turkey introduction to controlling of one of your most basic and powerful instincts. Even the most rigorous of fasters may slip up in the first few days, accepting a glass of water from a colleague or popping a breath mint. So long as it is done unknowingly, however, there is no penalty and the fast can continue guilt-free. (Though that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty anyway.)
Among other things, Ramadan is an exercise in breaking patterns that we have become used to in the previous year. It is the beginning of putting us back in control of our lives, as opposed to our daily routines being in control of us. Ask anyone who has quit smoking how liberating the process was–not just with respect to the specific addiction to nicotine, but to the feeling that you have ultimate control over your body.
But all this mastery over the flesh does take its toll. I promptly collapsed into my bed in the two hours between the end of the work day and the iftar at sunset. In predominantly Muslim countries, people are given some slack towards the end of the day as their energy runs out. But in America, fasting Muslims must soldier on, catching little bits of rest in between their daily responsibilities. That’s just one of the challenges of an American Ramadan.
Did I mention how sweet that water tasted at 7:40 pm?

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posted September 14, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Thank you for sharing Ramadan with us. I look forward to your continuing posts.

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posted September 14, 2007 at 4:44 pm

I also look forward to reading about your Ramadan experience, since my boyfriend and I had a similar conversation a couple of days ago. I’m not Muslim but I want to show my support for him as he grows spiritually during this time.

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posted September 14, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I am a convert w/ a past christian background-(born-again). I seem to have trouble w/paientence and shatan always tryes to get a hold of my finances during this time. For that is why I can’t wear hijab now , for I don’t want to be a hypercryte.Inshallaha one day I will overcome and will with pride as a true muslima
Please make Duah for me.
Ramadan Mubarek!

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posted September 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Ramadan Mubarak!
I cannot do the fasting from sunrise to sunset as I am a Diabetic and also suffer from cronic pain 24-7. I am still so excited it is the Ramadan season and seeing old friends and new as we break fasts, pray and attend Jumah ect. I ask for prayers, as I hurt so much all the time and have no medical insurance or money to seek a Dr.’s care right now. My youngest child (of 9) is now 18 and I felt my children would be of a great service to me as they became adults but they suffer from hard times as nuch as I do. So I am focusing my prayers on my health recovery so I can continue working, Inshallah and won’t have to retire at 52 years of age. Today is my first day on the Beliefnet website as a member. I look forward to communication and inspiration.

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posted September 16, 2007 at 1:54 am

I usually have an apple every morning. Yet, while breaking fast today, I thought I had never tasted one so delicious and nutritious. I guess the challenge for us remains as to how to turn our simple privileges into actionable endeavors for the betterment of society. Great blog!

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posted September 16, 2007 at 9:53 am

I have read all of the articles about Ramadan and it sounds so spiritual. What I don’t understand is why don’t the muslims who condemn the terrorist speaking out and condemning the terrorist action in the media? Is it the media who chose not to cover the real muslims and their beliefs or are the muslims chosing to to remain silent? Since 9/11 the only media coverage about the muslims condemning terrorist was on Fox news. Yes, most Americans don’t trust muslims with the feeling the terrorist act like our friends then try to destroy us. Can someone explain the virgins at death and what the true meaning of this? All religions have their extremist. Is it true this war is about the Muslims wanting everyone to turn to their faith only? Is it about our support of Israel? Why the bombings around the world and so much destruction and death? If you want us to be comfortable with you speak out and condemn the extremist with us.

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Charlotte McPherson

posted September 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Save Me from the Kitchen is my last article on Ramazan.
I have lived in the Middle East for nearly 3 decades. I am a columnist for an English newspaper in Turkey–Today’s Zaman. My column is on the Expat page and it is to help foreigners better understand Turkey. And Turks better understand us! Ramadan is very much a part of the culture even if people do not think Turkey is as Musl?m as some of her neigbours. This week I wrote four articles about some different aspects of Ramadan and how it affects foreigners who live in the country. Copy and paste and click and enjoy!

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posted September 16, 2007 at 12:57 pm

This is a great site! I want to wish all muslims the world over RAMADAN MUBARAK!!!
Allah is with us and we must take this time to focus mentally and spiritually to hear Allah speak to our conscious, as to what we need to do to empower the world with His rewards He has given to us as true dedicated servants.

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Zahara Sterling

posted September 18, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Dear Kathy,
Islam, as all faiths, has at its core, peace and love. The idea of terrorism and the killing of innocence is a concept which is not a part of Islam. Yes, the media sadly promotes the idea that people who act violently in the name of Islam are actually muslims, while this is as
false as a Nazi who kills an innocent person calling himself a Christian.
It is not true that Islam wants one faith only. Islam recognizes its predecessors in time as being a continuum of the same unified message from the Source of all, and that each time and place had its unique expression and application as was appropriate for the people. As people of faith, our global challenge is to find ways to renew the spirit of the paths we each have chosen and find peace within, and share peace without, together.
I think that you may want to meet muslim people who are joyful and sincere, and read sufi love poetry like Rumi’s, “The Ruby” to widen the constricting view you have which makes you feel uncomfortable about muslims. Life is short and sweet, don’t watch too much news and find out where your joy lies!
Thank you,
Zahara Sterling

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posted September 20, 2007 at 8:16 am

Zahara, Meeting with muslims is not the answer. From what I see they can be your best friend, leave your house then plot to destroy Americans. The silence of the Islam faith is what is constricting my views of the muslims. I do not hear any condemnation of the radicals and I am questioning why? I will not stop watching the news for I feel we need to be informed. That is the problem with most Americans they are ignorant to what is really going on out there. I believe the religion is suppose to be peaceful and now our politicians are bowing down to the radicals to be politically correct. You must speak up and inform the American public on what is right and condemn them and make our politicans do what is right.

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posted September 20, 2007 at 10:09 am

Zahara reached out to you to invite you to get to know your neighbors, to broaden your worldview. Unfortunately, again you say that “you see” they can be your friend and then plot to destroy you.
I invite you to search on the web and find tons of condemnation of terror from prominent Muslims. This is another way you can increase your knowledge and not just rely on on major media outlets. Muslims are loud but we need to be louder and overcome a media that prefers Osama and his disgusting ilk and not those of us who have families, contribute to our communities and love our neighbors. We are everyday citizens, just like you. Understanding comes from opening hearts and minds

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posted September 21, 2007 at 8:35 am

I have read alot about your faith and yes I read that it is a peaceful religion. Majority of Americans get their information from the television and that is what I am asking of those who condemn the extremist. I wrote responses under the 9/11 blog here. Please read where I am coming from. I lived in NJ on 9/11, I saw the smoke from the towers and know of people who lost their lives. I lived near Maquire airforce base where the plot was spoiled to kill our soldiers. I hear nothing on TV or radio condemning these actions. I see our politicians being polically correct giving the Islamic religions members more rights then the Christians. Our rights are being taken away. Our politicans don’t want you heard because they want us fearful so we will vote for change. I don’t have to come to your terms or you mine but I am expressing what most non Islamic Americans feel. I do my homework and have been since prior to 9/11 but I still hear silence when it comes to condemning the terrorist. I challenge you and your members to be vocal and condemn the action of the extremist. I don’t have a closed mind and I am waiting for the non extremist to make me feel comfortable. Most Americans will not research on the computer for sites condemning the terrorist. What can you do to bring it to them? The only TV station I saw that showed Muslims speaking out was FOX news and no other one. Challenge the media many radio host would probably love to have you on.

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posted September 23, 2007 at 5:20 am

Dear Shahed,
I really enjoyed reading your blog on Ramadan and the way you have included some of the humorous points of the fast.
I am an American Muslim currently living in Bangladesh. I am on day 12 of the fast. It is great that you are writing about this. Truly inspirational.
In response to Kathy’s comments. Extremist exist in all religions, not only Islam. They are the minority, not the majority. Most Muslims all over the world were outraged by attacks of 9/11. American Muslims and Muslims all over North America were in many ways held accountable for the acts of these extremist Muslims.
It is sad, but American media, especially television news media, is focused on 50% on the state the network is located in, then 40% on the nation as a whole and the remaining 10% on the world. When you devote only that small a portion to international news and events, the views of the vast majority of Americans are skewed. They are skewed because they are grossly uninformed about the rest of the world.
In the U.S. Muslims do not have a controlling voice. We are a very small demographic when compared to the Christians and Jews. While I am sure many Muslim groups have tried to bring out our views on the events you have mentioned here to the forefront of the media, the fact is the American public had already decided that we are culpable. So, why would the media broadcast what we have to say? Media prints/broadcasts only the news that sells.

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posted September 23, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Lori, I agree with you about the media coverage and most Americans are ignorant to all news coverage. I do my homework and find it frustrating too. What can be done to gain some attention to the non extremist muslims? I hear on the talk radio that again you are silent about the actions of the extremist. The politicans want you quiet too because you would influence their chances of getting elected. They thrive on problems so the non informed Americans (there are many) will vote for change. I am sure if you call many conservative talk shows they would talk to you and they reach many people who are interested in what you are saying. Contact Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity along with Bruce Jacob from Phoenix Arizona they would love to have a discussion with you. It is all about politics believe me why the news media is silencing you for the democrats want to keep us fearful so the uninformed will vote for a change. Fox covered it once so try to get it covered again. Fight to get your your right to get your voice heard and to condemn the extremist. Is it fear of the extremist that keeps people quiet? Help me understand.

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posted September 24, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Kathy, I think you need to broaden your news horizons, and it is good that you are reading this blog.
About the rights of christians being diminished (“Merry Christmas” being changed to a general “Happy Holidays” comes to mind), I am with you. America is a majority Christian nation, and there should be no problem expressing holiday greetings as one wishes. Or displaying the Ten Commandments, or what have you. The concern is that political correctness in trying not to offend anyone and include everyone, despite its good intentions, is offending the Christian presence. Even so, this is feigned offense, being that christianity IS the religion of the majority in America.
But America is a “melting pot”. “Melting pot” is understood one of two ways: as a pot where your culture melts away into the whole, or creates a multi-cultural utopia. This is a nation of immigrants. The only people who aren’t immigrants are the native americans, and even so, their ancestors had migrated here (sidenote: I am a native american convert to Islam, I can claim to be more american than George Washington. Should someone tell me to go back where I came from, I will camp out in their backyard).
We are a nation of immigrants, and refugees. Did not the pilgrims first land on Plymouth Rock for refuge from religious persecution? Does not the U.S.A. continue to accept refugees fleeing from all kinds of persecution? In the first amendment, we are guaranteed freedom OF religion (and not freedom FROM religion, as many an atheist would like).
Muslims (Converts and Immigrants, Islam is the fasting growing religion not just by birth, but also by conversion) denounce terrorism everyday. We are not in control of the media, we cannot say what we want when we want to. The media focuses its eye on whom it wills (and what media you choose to be your eyes). The Grand Mufi of Saudi Arabia has been denouncing terrorism BEFORE the atrocities of September the 11th, and continues to do so, and so have and do too many others.
Not withstanding, there is a minority who have ill will to America and her allies. They do not represent Islam , they do not represent muslims, and they are not all muslims. If I knew who they were, I would turn them in to the authorities, if not taking a piece of them myself beforehand. They are your enemies, and my enemies. This is the view of most muslims.
One cannot have preconceived notions of what people are about, this is called prejudice. When one of your muslim neighbors smiles at you and is friendly with you, do not think he is plotting your demise, this is paranoia. This is a good blog to see what the ordinary, majority of muslims are about.
We (muslims) are not a united body, in that we don’t have any “Pope” or formal leadership to speak for us or tell us what to do. We have as many different ways of practicing Islam as there are muslims. And 99.9% want to live in peace with you, and will fight against that .1% with you.
Kathy I wish for you the best of affairs in this life and the next, God bless you,
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'”- Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.

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