Ramadan Notes, Late Evening, Day 26

Kazim Ali
September 16, 2009
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“Sometimes when you are fasting you feel very lonely,” one of the speakers at the fast-breaking meal told a room full of Muslim and non-Muslim students.

It’s true, but that was part of the charm for me. The fast was something secret inside, something I didn’t have to share.

The Muslim Students Association had a wonderful idea: to invite campus community members to fast and to share the experience.

At the event we went around the room and students were invited to share their experiences of fasting.

One talked about how he realized how much of daily experience revolved around food, the getting of it, the eating of it. How to fill all that time?

Another talked of the experience as “approaching holiness.”

It’s all these things and more, I guess. The fast changes day to day throughout the month, and year to year for the constant practitioner.

To do it many times is like rereading a beloved book, but even doing it only one day and only once will still open some windows of perception for you.

It was exciting because it was a participatory event–students were invited to share, and on each table there were markers to write on the paper table-cloths reflections of the day’s experience.

Yes I always held my fast private, but perhaps reflecting on it so publicly this year allowed me the opportunity to share it with others in a community.

I know this is not unrelated to my new experiences with joining the communal prayer. Today I joined them for the third time and this time I didn’t even think about it.

Somehow this month I stopped worrying about who would accept me or if I was “Muslim enough.” I invited people into my home, I reflected on my own practice, I joined in the prayers.

Things start out extraordinary and then they become ordinary.

But what we pray for is that most special of gifts: to be able to see the ordinary as extraordinary once more.

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