I’m not Muslim, nor in spite of my respect for the religion, do I have any intention of converting to Islam. I will however be fasting for the sixth time this Ramadan.
Each year I’m asked questions about why I do it or what do I hope to gain, and more often these questions come from Muslims rather than from other Christians. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, they wonder why I choose to do something that they are expected by their religion to do.
My Ramadan experience started in my first year in Qatar, out of a sense of wanting to understand more about the place I called home and the people who live here. With the encouragement of some Doha-based friends I took my first tentative steps in to the world of fasting and I’ve never looked back.
During Ramadan I attend Al Fanaar mosque, where the Imam speaks in English during Friday prayers and where I have learned much more about the Holy Month. One year the Imam delivered what my Catholic-raised self can only think of as a “homily”, highlighting the responsibilities of those who fast during Ramadan.
Much attention is placed on the fact that Muslims are forbidden from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. But the concept that I should be cautious about what I say to others, and indeed the way I say it, really resonates with me.
What’s not to like about a time when people make a concerted effort to pay attention not only to what they put into their mouths but also what comes out as well?
While not expecting miracles, I can only hope to become a better person by taking the time each year to recognise and reflect on all facets of my behaviour.
My own Ramadan traditions mean I will again host a number of urban family-style suhours in my home and I’ll attempt to read some of the Quran. I don’t for a moment think I’ve learned nearly as much as I could have, by participating in Ramadan but I’m happy to continue my journey this year and feel blessed to be surrounded by people who support my decision.
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This blog first appeared at Just Here Qatar