Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ramadan Kareem

For Muslims all over the world September is the holy month of Ramadan this year. I think "Kareem" means happy, because all over the newspapers there are ads saying, "Ramadan Kareem." Who knew the basketball player's name meant happy? Well, this month is a big deal for Muslims. The reason it is a holy month is because Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset each day (no food OR drink) and dedicate the month to more spiritual matters like becoming more forgiving. In the newspaper yesterday there was an article about how Muslims should have the attitude of forgiveness this month, and if someone offends them, they should say, "Everything is fine. I am fasting."

The businesses, especially the restaurants, all close during the day and then open at sunset. It makes it quite difficult to get needed supplies. As non-Muslims, we have been advised to stay home after sunset because the traffic is beyond ridiculous while people are going to and fro getting to the nearest restaurant or family home for a night of feasting. That is what is so ironic. It is a month of fasting, yet the food sales and restaurant businesses skyrocket during this time.

My faith also includes fasting, but the practice of fasting in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is more private and less extreme, because we fast for only 24 hours on one Sabbath day a month and then in addition as we feel the individual need to receive divine inspiration, strength, and help. Last month Brett and I fasted and petitioned the Lord on behalf of Abbey's school situation. We were told that there were no open spots at any private school in Doha, let alone an open spot at the American School of Doha. If Abbey didn't get into the school, I would be homeschooling her. I was fine with that, but Abbey would be very isolated and ready to hitch a ride back to Utah after just a week. So we felt strongly that the Lord would help us with a righteous desire and it was definitely worth fasting about for extra help, insight, and faith. We didn't ask for a magic spot to open up for Abbey at the school. We asked the Lord to help Abbey get into the right school or the right situation. For me, and for Brett, fasting is especially difficult because I am diabetic and he is hypoglycemic. So the act of fasting for us sacrifices a little more than a few meals. We also sacrifice our health somewhat. The day we fasted I received a call from the school asking if they could schedule Abbey for testing. That was a very good sign. Then the day after she was tested, the school called to let us know she had been accepted. We knew we had witnessed a miracle, and the miracle turned out the way we had hoped. That isn't always the case, but in this case, I guess the Lord agreed with what we thought was best.

So my experience with fasting is quite different from most of the people here in Qatar. Brett told me that the students at VCUQ have petitioned the faculty to go easy on them during this month and not require them to do big projects or assignments. It is quite a controversy because some professors, even some who are Muslim, believe that fasting should be a sacrifice, and outward conditions should not be changed for this reason. The classes are already shortened all month so students don't pass out from fasting.

I believe fasting is a great source for spiritual help and learning. Even when I am not petitioning the Lord for something speicific, fasting helps me sluff off the natural man for awhile and crawl out of the body that sometimes rules my life too much. So I guess I can see how Muslims would have the great desire to fast and do it with great dedication, but a month seems excessive. Even the laws here are excessive - it is illegal to eat or drink in public during daylight hours. I wonder what people in Utah would think if every first Sunday brought this kind of militant fasting observance. Rocky Anderson's head would explode with indignation! He really needs to visit Qatar during Ramadan.

1 comment:

ljanlyons94 said...

Happy anniversary. Wow, 26 years. I remember so well, thinking you were just babies and wondering what in the heck you were thinking. Congratulations, it sounds like your anniversary was perfect. Enjoy the next 26 years even more than the first. Cherish every moment and then go scream into a pillow when those moments are out of control.