Every year, like lunar-calendar clockwork, Muslims fast. They fast to remember their origins, to return to the self, and to see and be with God in the most fulfilling way. It’s a reminder, taught at childhood, to strengthen the muscle of gratitude. To seek the edges of kindness and compassion for humanity — to think of the poor, and thank God that you have what they don’t. To remember how fickle luck can be, and what a privilege it is to navigate the world with access.
More than anything, it’s a month to lean into submission.
Submission is an important component of Islam. In Arabic, “Muslim” means “one that submits.” Poetically, it infers the one who surrenders to Allah. Muslims submit to Allah not through ritual but through a certain set of beliefs, known as the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan is one of the five pillars — the other four are faith, prayer, zakat (charity), and Hajj (pilgrimage). By performing these duties, one is ostensibly a Muslim.
As Ramadan is ushered in, a beautiful, holy time of year is welcomed. When I was younger, I cherished this month. I liked the feeling of being awake before others, the world asleep as my small self would watch my parents quickly eating before praying Fajr, the day beginning as the light turned from cerulean to pale blue. I liked the smell of hot pakoras frying and chicken roasting as I fasted — and then the first glorious sip of rooh afza, milk, and ice — followed by a sweet plump date, the first thing I inhaled as I broke my fast. In later years, my family got into a healthier Iftar routine — fermented moong daal with ginger and salty lemonade.
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