Ramadan Day 19: Ramalama-Ding-Dong Part I, Confessions of a Ramadan Muslim

I’ve lost all will to write. Ok, that’s super dramatic.

I’ve lost all will to fast. Now, I know there’s a lot of muzzies out there who are like: Ugh, I hate Ramadan, I just want it to end! I’m not going to do it this year. Wouldn’t it be great if I got my period? Wouldn’t it be great if they sighted the moon earlier? When will this be OVER?

There’s a lot of non-muzzies who are like: Ramadan, huh? I don’t know why you fast in the first place. You can’t have any water? That’s not healthy. That’s amazing that you can do that, but that’s not something I would do. We do stuff like that for [insert religion here], but this is wayyyy more intense.

So if any of the above applies to you, feel free to keep reading. There’s always a complaint that can unite believers and non-believers alike. Also, I view today’s writing as an anthropological excursion into something new, something different, something fresh!

What’s the door prize for the way Ramadan turns us all into question marks? Yep, it’s hard. But is it something more?

I used to love fasting. I loved the stillness of morning. I’d be awake, birds chirping. Felt as if the world was at peace with me. I’d savor the water as it ran down my throat. Oh, and the meditation…it’s as if I lived a walking meditation. Allah was right there, next to me.

Sure, I’m romanticizing the past 7-8 years a bit. But my friends and I would talk about how much we looked forward to Ramadan. How busy we were, and how Ramadan would inevitably slow us down. Ramadan’s blessings were so many, so wondrous. We received special benefits during Ramadan, from fasting, from Allah.

Perhaps (though I certainly hope this isn’t the case) I am a bit more “observant,” a bit more disciplined, a bit more inclined to pray and to subscribe to religious things during Ramadan than I am at any other time of the year.   Christians have a saying about this kind of Church-goer: the Sunday Christian.

I may make a lousy Muslim, but I’m a pretty good faster.

Maybe I’m a Ramadan Muslim.

Then this year’s fast happened. The morning meal at 3 in the morning, praying Fajr at 3:45am? Maghrib/Sundown at 8:30pm. The last couple months: mom going to the emergency room, mom having surgery, mom okay, 2 trips to California in 3 weeks, 2 weeks in Nebraska City, Penny moving-in (a first for me), battle of the bedbugs, living out of plastic bags, attacked in Union Square, people telling me what to do, encountering assholes left and right, Penny and me fighting. Did I mention I’m fasting?

The wall separating me from other people is thin. Too thin. About the only peace I feel is when I’m too tired to snap at anybody or too exhausted to feel hurt.

So, I went to the Doctor and guess what he told me, he said, “Girl, you gotta have Faith no matter what you do. Because, Ramadan ain’t no thing.

It’s not an entity that does something to you. It’s not going to slow you down. It’s not going to make everything better. It’s what you bring to it.”

The Doctor is annoying when he’s right.

What am I bringing to Allah? Resentment that I’m too tired, too exhausted to write. Frustration that I can’t help Penny clean the apartment? Anger because I was touched by somebody else’s violence.

I feel a ferocity set loose in me this Ramadan, an urgency, a desire to fight the slowing down so that I can get more done. I lost so much time in the months before to matters, incidents, factors – all out of my control. I have felt so helpless and disempowered. I want to take from the world around me and cover myself in wind and freedom, in the ability to be wherever I want, and do whatever I want.

I feel, in short, the opposite of what is most holy during Ramadan. And instead of doing the work, I’ve expected Ramadan to do something for me.

Ramadan is voluntary.

Renew my vows.

When I submit to Allah, I’m no longer in control.

When I submit during Ramadan, I’m giving this time to Allah, not to myself.

The dedication to God is the slow formation of ritual, every day, around something that was not shaped by me.

Ramadan is my choice.

I’m making time for you, for Ramadan.

***

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