I don’t openly talk about my religion, not for any other reason than it is personal to me. I’m not preachy about it because my journey is always evolving. What I may have felt 5 years ago, is very different to what I feel now. I think that comes down to age and maturity, over time – my spirituality has developed and so has my faith. I remember for a long time it was something that I was forced to participate in because my family were practicing, rather something that came from with. I’d say that’s changed now though and while I may not be the most pious, my faith is very important to me.
In case anyone is wondering….I’m Muslim.
We’re now 12 days into the holy month of Ramadan and I thought it was time to write a post about my faith.
I am not what I would call ‘overly religious’, a lot of my practice is and has been to make my grandparents happy, I love them and respect their beliefs and I partly honour that love with my religious practice. That would include going to the mosque so that they could see me in attendance as well as many other things that I didn’t really want to do. However, for a long time, one thing that I didn’t do was observe Ramadan. I am not sure why really – it’s 30 days out of the year, it’s a great test of willpower and strength of conviction and it’s also something that brings Muslims together as a community. Yet… Ramadan was something that I shied away from. It was inconvenient, it was hard and it wasn’t something that I felt that I needed to do.
About 6 years ago however, something changed. I experienced something that knocked me completely off kilter and I found myself questioning everything. It wasn’t long until Ramadan was upon me and this was the first time in a long time that I decided to take stock, pause and actively choose to observe Ramadan. I think there were a couple of reasons for this – I needed to show myself that I had conviction. Conviction in something myself, I guess? If I had the willpower and strength to fast from sunrise to sunset and I could do that and while doing reflect on how to be a better and kind person… then I would be doing right by me, believing in me.
That was my reason for doing it then. Ramadan was actually a source of power, igniting a deep rooted strength that I had forgotten about. Ramadan also made me feel connected to my community, my fellow Muslims – all working towards one goal, connection to God. By abstaining from pleasure and the things that bring us perceived pleasure, we can focus ourselves on our love for God and prayer for the almighty.
While I know that is the reason and I agree with it. When you take away the stuff you don’t need but think you do and you strip life back to basics, you appreciate what you have and what really matters.
- By not eating, you appreciate the abundance of food that we have…I could order it to my door, or get in the car and drive down the road to get whatever I want.
- By not drinking water from sunrise to sunset, you appreciate the gift of water. Water gives life and I think a lot of us take that for granted. We don’t appreciate how easy it is for us to access water, yet so many people in this world, don’t have that same level of easy access. By taking away that basic need and forcing yourself to experience unquenched thirst – you are allowing yourself to feel gratitude towards water.
- By abstaining from life’s pleasures and focusing on prayer, you allow yourself to feel gratitude towards all that you have and have the ability to experience.
Essentially, Ramadan takes you back to your basic human needs and reminds you to be grateful, thankful and appreciative of what you’ve been given. For me, alongside that though – it’s the ability to challenge my own willpower and develop strength within myself. I honesty think that life chips away at our willpower – as it becomes harder, we let ourselves give in to what’s easy, we take shortcuts and we cut corners. In my opinion, Ramadan offers the ability to cleanse and reset, renewing our self belief…
Self belief – the crucial component to personal growth. How can you be more if you choose to not believe in who you are as a person? How can you grow if you don’t value what you have to offer?
And now I ask this question – in this holy month of Ramadan… how will I choose to grow?