Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Musings on Ramadan, Faith, and Being Human

Every year I get so excited for Ramadan. I start talking about it months in advance. This year, I even bought lights to decorate - including the oh-so-shocking (to the pearl-clutching crowd of Islamophobic evangelicals) moon-and-star tree topper that Walmart sold over Christmas, which I put in the window. I have a nice cloth calendar to count down the days of Ramadan to Eid al Fitr. I even made a "Happy Ramadan" banner in an effort to create that holiday feeling that everyone here tends to enjoy around Christmas. I got a journal to write in during Ramadan and signed up for a Productive Muslim Ramadan course online.

And yet... I wake each day, dreading the fast. I hate the feeling of weakness, of exhaustion, from not eating and the pain of headaches from dehydration. I hate that even sweeping the floor is too monumental a task for me when I'm fasting. Doing nothing (when not in school or work) makes the time go by SO slowly during the day, but I have no energy to do more. I get mad and frustrated that I'm not supposed to drink or eat anything (although not being able to drink a nice cold beverage is definitely worse in my book, especially considering the "over 100 with heat index" wave we've been going through and will keep going through for another week or so). I hate feeling so useless. I have no motivation to read Qur'an or do that web course I spent $100 on. I don't even believe in the whole "women can't fast when Aunt Flo is in town visiting" thing (because it's not in Qur'an, so don't even try to twist Qur'an to fit that misogynistic interpretation, mkay?), but I will break fast just to get a break from fasting (and because cramps can be agonizingly painful for a day or two and without meds, I'm a miserable lump on the sofa).

I go through the fasting day trying so hard to ignore it, trying to cultivate this sense of productivity and enhanced spirituality that pretty much everyone else claims to experience, and nothing happens. It's not there. Is it me? Am I not doing enough? Okay, given how I basically turn into a lump on the couch in Ramadan, that's probably a big part of it. But even when I try... it feels like I'm forcing something that just isn't there. Like I'm whistling into the wind, you know? Not that my belief is lacking. I believe in Allah, in Islam, 100%. I just can't seem to make this connection that everyone else claims to do.

It's really frustrating. It makes me wonder if I'm a hypocrite. I mean, if I'm a "good Muslim/real Muslim", then I'd feel some sort of fulfillment in Ramadan, right? I'd feel some extra special connection that makes my heart and spirit sing and reaffirm what I believe to be right. Why is standing up for prayer so hard? Why do I miss more prayers, even in Ramadan, than I've ever actually made? How is it that the promise of Allah's pleasure with me not enough to motivate me to overcome fatigue or sheer laziness? Why does my nafs trump my desire to please Allah, even in what is considered to be the most sacred month?

Sometimes it feels like the only thing Muslim about me is the scarf on my head. :(

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