When I first learned the meaning of the word ‘ramadan,’ I was surprised and confused. I expected it to mean light, or purity, patience, or gratitude. For these are the qualities of this month. These are the attributes we are learning to instill in our hearts and, further, to make part of an ongoing effort throughout the year. The Arabic root word, ramada, means to be burned. Burned! I could not have been more at a mental loss as to why the most holy month of the Islamic calendar meant to burn. At first, I thought of the literal translation of being burned in reference to hot Arabian deserts, and civilization fasting under a baking sun. However this religion, and faith in general,is neither geographically secluded to one area of the world, nor affixed to one climate. So the mind continued to ponder upon the deeper signification, which a gracefully aged Semitic language promises. I considered the burning of desire. Desire for food, for water, for those prohibited acts, for those prohibited words. Could it be possible that the burning refers to the yearning of the heart and the body's need for these prohibited things as a response to refrainment?
I am not a linguist, nor have I extensively researched the politically correct and historically accurate explanation of this word and its implication. I am merely attempting to entertain my interpretation; the internal burning which takes place when starving your mind and body from what they are used to in order to feed the soul. Now anyone who has fasted for a stretch of time is able to tell you how impossible each minute, each hour feels, how sometimes you are glancing at the clock an excessive amount of times, how you become easily agitated and disturbingly irritated at the slightest comment, noise, or hiccup in the day. Because you are not thinking about the day, although you are there physically, your mind is off thinking about every single thing you want that you cannot indulge in for a period of time. The mere thought of this is going against our natural instinct for survival, but it also clashes with another part of our nature, the ego. The ego is in a constant state of fuming rage. Our egos beat our chests and bellow out in a childlike stubbornness for what is familiar and comfortable. For what makes us feel good. When the ego is told to be patient, to wait, to redirect its point of view, it stonewalls with every inch of cavalier power. The ego hurts, and our human form suffers. As the human form suffers, something extraordinary happens. A trigger is set off and simultaneously, the soul activates a greater good aimed at enhancing our spirituality.
Part of us becomes quiet as our other half is in turmoil. The quiet is that profound trajectory of the reflective mind. This part of us emerges from a place of humility. As our limits are stretched, as we are pushed to our breaking points, as we grieve over the unwelcomed transition, we rethink our basic needs. We choose reason as our guiding tool to reevaluate what it means to survive, what our bodies can endure, and the control we have over our minds assessment of self-regulation. We are reborn in a sense. Similar to the soils resilience after a burning; grass grows, life is resurrected. At this point, we experience a sense of heightened spirituality. We recognize the voltage of our individual strengths and realize the importance of patience in growth. Before the mind fully wraps itself around the notion, we are already growing. Knowing that positive change is occurring and that change stems from newfound roots within you is humbly gratifying. You look at yourself objectively and are able to rise above the trivial nonsense of your ego. You see the good for what it is, not an exaggerated version, the bad as room for improvement, not as foregone and the whole as a sacred being, not as lost and flawed. You connect with yourself on a higher frequency, impenetrable by those unnecessary, critical sounds. In the impenetrable realm, we are less worried about worldly affairs and the human form. Our objective centers around a higher connection with ourselves and our faith, for some this is religion for others it is a state of mind or being, what matters is that you are intuitive to your mind, body, actions and words as a cognitive means to an end. An end where a harmonious self replaces internal dissonance.
Written by Nazhah Khawaja
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