Religious Rituals – Ramadan in Islam

Hello, dear readers,

The holy month of fasting Ramadan has begun. In a time of ‘social distancing’, in which one should distance oneself and a time in which nothing can be taken for granted. Empty pilgrimage sites in Rome, Jerusalem or Mecca and Medina. Priests, pastors, rabbis and imams (to name only a few representatives) are equally called upon to use their creativity and improvisation skills. But especially the faithful are put to a hard test, because Ramadan in Islam is not only a time of reflection but also of reflection jointly with others: with family, friends and like-minded people. The hectic bustle before the fasting, in which above all one thing is done, food is bought and prepared, turns out this year at least weaker. Not to mention the meeting with relatives and the prayer together, which is mainly cancelled. 

Special features of Ramadan

Especially spring and summertime are exceptionally difficult times for believing Muslims, because that is when the days are especially long and the nights short. As a rule, the last intake of food takes place just before sunrise (which is recalculated every day, depending on the place) and the breaking of the fast ‘Iftar’ takes place after the prayer for breaking the fast after sunset. Unlike in other religions, no drinking or eating is allowed in the meantime. For this reason alone, working during this time becomes a challenge, and especially in climatically hot countries, shorter working hours apply. As an expatriate (= foreigner working in these countries) you should be prepared for a temporary standstill and it is best to take your own holidays during this time. Every year Ramadan is brought forward by about 10-11 days.

Iftar – a beautiful ritual of Ramadan

Especially in Islamabad I noticed the importance of ‘Iftars’ during Ramadan: in the evening, the streets around large factories and companies were filled with people sitting together at long tables to break their fast together. These were usually workers, poorer people, who could eat there free of charge together with their colleagues. These Iftar tables are financed by the factory owners or people who are better off. Fasting in Islam means that the one who does not know poverty should at least during this time get a feeling of how the others are doing, who were not so richly provided by life. Unfortunately, the latter often falls by the wayside, because…

the fasting soup is an exception in most of the families!

Since I myself have been fasting regularly and have been healing fasting regularly for years, I know what it means to give up one’s dear habits for a long time or even to not take any food at all. However, it is somewhat different with fasting, because you only drink and do not eat for many days or even weeks. But what I know in any case and have already felt on my own body: breaking the fast in the wrong way is bad for your health. This means that especially during the fasting period a light soup and tea would be the best way to eat. However, this tradition, which would also be very important for Muslim countries, where wrong nutrition and obesity are widespread, has fallen into oblivion. Older people usually still apply this ritual. For the commandment of renunciation during Ramadan also applies in Islam. The ‘Iftar meal’ at home sometimes degenerates into a competition: who cooks more and better? And, of course, the community and the family are also important here.

Ramadan in Corona-Times

I must confess, as a Catholic I did not find this year’s fasting that bad or difficult. For me, fasting means contemplation and reflection on what I consider to be right and important in my life – without outside influence. One does not always have to let oneself be sprinkled. But some have to learn to ‘endure’ or ‘enjoy’ silence again. They also have to reflect on how important family and friends really are to us. How much one should enjoy the moment again and again – without mobile phone or television.

Fasting exists in every religion. Each one does it differently, has different rules or objectives. But that is what religions have in common. And I find this common ground very enriching, because it connects us all across national and language borders. Fasting has a special meaning in every religion and almost always they are the same or at least similar. In the end it also supports our health.  

I wish the believers who celebrate Ramadan this year much energy and strength, but also time to enjoy taking care of their own soul and spirit. Fasting, not only during the daytime in the form of food renunciation, but to consciously experience and live renunciation around the clock. I am sure for many people new horizons would open up. Because God or some cosmic force (who ever believes in whatever) is in all of us and we should consciously seek and rediscover this force again. Then we will survive in a good manner and pass the next months with restrictions well.  

In this sense, stay safe and enjoy fasting, because it brings forth undreamt-of powers in everyone.

Yours Waltraud