The Big Ideas of 2010

Ramadan

Why not look to Islam for a bit of restraint?
CHARLIE ENGMAN

Most of us, whether we’ve experienced it directly or not, are familiar with the idea of a comedown. A comedown is what happens when a drug, usually a stimulant, begins the long, painful process of withdrawing from your system. As the euphoria of the high begins to wane and the anxiety washes in, you suddenly start to feel dizzy and disoriented. The drug, previously situated between you and reality, is wearing off and, as it goes, you’re left to navigate the void created by its absence. That means going through the process of reconnecting to yourself, to your body’s natural rhythms and your mind’s natural pace. And when it’s finally over, you’re left feeling listless, lifeless and blank … the soaring high replaced by a crushing melancholy.

That’s how I feel every year after Christmas.

Once the cheer I’ve been mainlining since the day after Thanksgiving dries up, I’m left with an emptiness I can’t quite describe. There’s nothing like the sight of Christmas decorations after the holiday has passed. Walking into a room strewn with yuletide detritus is like returning to the scene of Bacchanalian excess the morning after, when all you’re left with is a headache and a vague sense of shame. The thought of candy, cookies, credit cards – consumption in any form – invites feelings of guilt and disgust. I can’t wait to eat a salad, go to the gym. I vow never to go to the mall again. I just want to get clean. Coming down from Christmas – reconnecting to my body’s natural rhythms and my mind’s natural pace – takes days.

I doubt I’m alone. Most people seem a bit pallid and disconnected, not quite themselves, in the days following Christmas. It’s as if we’re all trying to traverse the void that the holiday, with its attendant excess, has left in its wake. But what if we were to introduce some elements of Ramadan into our celebration of Christmas? Muslims, during the month-long observance of the Islamic holiday, abstain from eating, drinking and sex during the daylight hours. The practice of fasting is meant to teach patience, humility and restraint. It is meant to inspire empathy and appreciation. It’s a way to achieve “God-consciousness” and repent for past sins and misdeeds. Above all, fasting is meant to bring one closer to one’s spiritual self. By denying the body, practitioners are strengthening the soul and the mind. It is an exercise in discipline and meditation that, once completed, should leave one feeling more connected, more whole.

Westerners have a long tradition of borrowing from other cultures to temper an immoderate nature. Yoga brings us calm, Tao brings us balance – so why not look to Islam for a bit of restraint? Maybe we can begin this year at the height, rather than the depths, of self.

Sarah Nardi

125 comments on the article “Ramadan”

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Page 4 of 13

Westdude

What does Xmas do to the environment?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHRISTMAS -- THE MOST PARADOXICAL SEASON
By Flavioos

-- The season when tons, tons, and tons of trash - that could be avoided - are irreverently dumped into the environment.
-- The season when graceful young trees are taken away from their original habitat, used as toys for a few weeks and then dumped into the trash.
-- The season when trash collectors have their work drastically increased by the amount of dead trees and other weird pieces of trash they have to take away.
-- The season when a considerable amount of electrical power is wasted on fanciful decorations.
-- The season when people feel the obligation (not always a pleasure) of giving something to someone.
-- The season when millions of wrong gifts are exchanged and part of them recycled by returning to their original stores to be repacked and sold again.
-- The season when people spend all their moneys, and part of their coming paychecks, on thousands of unnecessary things, forgetting that they might be starting the New Year broke and sorry for having credit cards.
-- The season when merchants feel free to raise merchandise prices, without any justification or apology.
-- The season when lifters take advantages in crowded shopping centers and markets to steal merchandise.
-- The season when Santa is allegorically used to promote businesses and implant lies and false beliefs into the mind of children.
-- The season when some people feel so lonely and devastated that get drunk or even commit suicide.
-- The season when -- disregarding the joys of being healthy -- people ruin their own health by eating piles of junk foods.
-- The season when the media reviews the disgraces and tragedies of the year.
-- The season when Christians -- ignoring ethical principles -- send Xmas cards and messages to Moslems and Atheists, Jews and Buddhists.
-- The season when people are not able to realize that their religiously-rooted festivities and celebrations instigate all those unhappy incidents.

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History Punk

I hate to pointthis out to the author, but since the 4th century A.D., the 40 day period before Christmas, advent, has been a period of penitence and fasting before the birth of Christ. Catholicism, the Orthodox Churches, and the Oriental churches all recognize, to varying degrees, this tradition to this day. The period before Easter, Lent, is similar in this regard. Outside of the exotic, non-Western appeal of Islam, I fail to see how Ramadan would actually add anything to this.

History Punk

I hate to pointthis out to the author, but since the 4th century A.D., the 40 day period before Christmas, advent, has been a period of penitence and fasting before the birth of Christ. Catholicism, the Orthodox Churches, and the Oriental churches all recognize, to varying degrees, this tradition to this day. The period before Easter, Lent, is similar in this regard. Outside of the exotic, non-Western appeal of Islam, I fail to see how Ramadan would actually add anything to this.

ken vallario

it is meant as a challenge, and the challenge is appropriate, as it points out a class relationship between christianity and islam. it has always been my opinion that those who struggle in material terms have a deeper connection to the 'spiritual' simply because of necessity. the west is suffering from the over-consumption that is a result of the industrial revolution. these simplistic prescriptions are meant to point that out. we as a species have yet to learn how to share the abundance of nature...

ken vallario

it is meant as a challenge, and the challenge is appropriate, as it points out a class relationship between christianity and islam. it has always been my opinion that those who struggle in material terms have a deeper connection to the 'spiritual' simply because of necessity. the west is suffering from the over-consumption that is a result of the industrial revolution. these simplistic prescriptions are meant to point that out. we as a species have yet to learn how to share the abundance of nature...

Anonymous

Id take over-consumption over sharia any day. This article illustrates nothing more than the authors poor understanding of reality. Pathetic.

Anonymous

Id take over-consumption over sharia any day. This article illustrates nothing more than the authors poor understanding of reality. Pathetic.

ken vallario

i do not think the author was suggesting we convert to an islamic legal code, it was meant to encourage us to question how our religion relates to our relationship with material...your reading indicates an overly defensive posture, which is itself poorly related to reality, since the freedom to over-consume ironically does not lead to a greater sophistication concerning comprehension.

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