My life's journey in Ramadan by Nezar Hamze [Sun Sentinel]
My life’s journey in Ramadan
by Nezar Hamze
(June 28, 2014) Ramadan, which begins this evening, is a familiar word for some in South Florida. But for most, the word, looks a little weird.
On the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the name of a month during which Muslims worldwide fast for a period of 29 or 30 days. The daily fast is from sunrise to sunset, and the name of the meal in which we break our fast is called Iftar. The tradition of fasting is held by nearly every world religion and, in Islam, fasting is one of the five pillars — or five prescriptions — from God to humanity for the purpose of living a pious life.
The act of fasting is, in itself, a form of worship. The external attributes are easily recognizable and easy to explain, including no eating, no drinking, no profanity and increased prayers. However, the internal attributes and benefits of fasting are very different.
My life journey through Ramadan is nothing short of gnarly “soul surfing.” My physical and spiritual fast represents my surfboard and the wave represents life. The fast is structured and consistent, while life consistently has its ups and downs.
The act of fasting is the ultimate teacher of self-control. While I am controlling my bodily urges — such as hunger, thirst and other desires — my spiritual urges flourish and change the way I deal with life or ride the wave.
I have to be honest. When I first started fasting as a child, it was horrible. All my friends would be eating lunch and teasing me. I could remember dreading the month of Ramadan. As I got older and started reading the scriptures, I soon realized that everyone’s struggle is unique to their own time period and fasting was one of the constants throughout time. Now I look forward to Ramadan.
The wave of my life brings new challenges every day, new friends every day and, most importantly, new things for me to learn every day. While I am fasting, my spiritual response to the everyday has shown me that we do have the ability to change. We can change the way we think about life. We can change the way we think about our friends and neighbors. And finally, we can change our society for the better.
I know life is extremely hard and sometimes unbearable, but if you practice “soul surfing”, you will soon learn what many generations before us have learned. We can change. Are you a Soul Surfer?