Is it too early to prepare for Ramadan?
19th February 2021
Just as we come into the season of Lent, which began on Wednesday the 17th of February 2021, what better time is there for me to consider what Lent might mean for my Christian colleagues and friends? Well for a start, it is much longer than the 30 days of Ramadan that I am used to, ending on the 3rd of April this year. This means that for those observing Lent they will give something up for 46 days. That’s 46 days and nights, and not just during daylight hours- which I am more accustomed to. Some people fast for the whole period of Lent, as a reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice in the Judean desert, while others will fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I don’t know why there is such variation, so if you know- please drop me an email.
People observing Lent can give up one of a number of ‘vices’ whilst fasting. These could include; chocolate, sugar, coffee, fizzy drinks, takeaways, alcohol, smoking, swearing, Netflix, social media and gaming. It is the individual’s choice as to what they take out of their life. While the Muslim’s fasting stipulates the individual must abstain from food and water, I feel that sometimes it can be reduced to only this, and some ‘vices’ like gaming, social media and Netflix continue throughout the day. Does this meet the requirements of fasting?
This is where I would like to place our focus today, my dear friends prepare yourselves for a month of fasting- and start preparing now. If you’re used to checking your phone daily for the latest social updates and to see what your friends are eating, start weaning yourself off it from today. You will notice an improvement in your mental health and wellbeing almost immediately. Remember we are in Tier 4 Lockdown in Gloucestershire, so movement and travel is restricted. But we’re used to this from last year, aren’t we?
I cannot believe it has been almost a year since the whole pandemic began and with it many religious traditions commenced under lockdown. Last year was good training for us, and we have all clearly seen the damaging effects of the virus on ourselves and on our communities. It was around this time, well more like the end of March when I contracted Covid myself, and I worried that I may not be able to fast. Thankfully I got through the worst of it, and recovered just a few days before Ramadan. I was able to complete all my fasting days without a glitch. But the worry was still there.
With around 6 weeks before Ramadan 2021, I am going to focus on what we can do to prepare for this auspicious date in the Muslim calendar. I can already hear some people saying, what is there to prepare for, so early before Ramadan? It is probably best to start with…what is the purpose of Ramadan and how can we make the most of it? Many Muslims have responded to this question by highlighting some of the inevitable consequences of fasting, such as empathy with those less fortunate. This might be one result of fasting but it is not the ultimate reason for fasting. We have to be careful not to just make Ramadan about abstaining only from food and drink. I want to leave you with this question…what do you think is the purpose of fasting and what does God get out of Commanding Muslims to fast?
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll continue this topic in the forthcoming days…