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”

Displaying 41 - 50 of 125

Page 5 of 13

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.

adfuckups

I have no sympathy for those fasting
People starve everyday in many countries and not by choice
I can see how fasting would be relevant to those who have enough money to buy and eat what ever they want.It may be good to have a break.
Good for you if you are muslim fasting.
I live in England and don't get talked to in English my landlord wont let me eat certain foods in England i get rejected from jobs as i don't speak Arabic In England.

all this promotion of religions

maybe its better for me to convert

adfuckups

I have no sympathy for those fasting
People starve everyday in many countries and not by choice
I can see how fasting would be relevant to those who have enough money to buy and eat what ever they want.It may be good to have a break.
Good for you if you are muslim fasting.
I live in England and don't get talked to in English my landlord wont let me eat certain foods in England i get rejected from jobs as i don't speak Arabic In England.

all this promotion of religions

maybe its better for me to convert

DumbWaiter

Fasting cleans up your system, akin to purging the cooling system of your Vauxhall Chevette (I am taking the liberty to assume that is the car you currently drive). No one forces you to fast. It is a matter of choice.

And as for your job hunting challenges, perhaps you should consider taking a quick resume (CV) writing course. You should avoid, at all costs, letting your future employer know how misguided and bigoted you are.

DumbWaiter

Fasting cleans up your system, akin to purging the cooling system of your Vauxhall Chevette (I am taking the liberty to assume that is the car you currently drive). No one forces you to fast. It is a matter of choice.

And as for your job hunting challenges, perhaps you should consider taking a quick resume (CV) writing course. You should avoid, at all costs, letting your future employer know how misguided and bigoted you are.

Arthur Borges i...

Yeppers: in the United Kingdom alone, Christmas feasting sends some 230,000 tonnes of food to the rubbish bin each year.

Arthur Borges i...

Yeppers: in the United Kingdom alone, Christmas feasting sends some 230,000 tonnes of food to the rubbish bin each year.

Mr. Grinch

Fasting is a dated tradition. According to economists (superfreakonomics ;)), children born during Ramadan are 20% more likely to develop visual, hearing, and learning disabilities. With this in mind would you still perscribe it to the rest of the world? Surely islam has another example of restraint.....

Mr. Grinch

Fasting is a dated tradition. According to economists (superfreakonomics ;)), children born during Ramadan are 20% more likely to develop visual, hearing, and learning disabilities. With this in mind would you still perscribe it to the rest of the world? Surely islam has another example of restraint.....

ken vallario

i would agree that adherence to a fasting regimen during pregnancy is a sign of a simplistic relationship with religion. however, i would argue that there is a value in fasting, spiritually speaking, to gain awareness about one's body and one's mortality, and one's relationship with desire, etc. so, given a sophisticated spiritual environment, fasting can be a useful tool, and should not be dismissed as dated, simply because some people misuse it. the same could be said for the tradition of gift giving.

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