Funny how summer flew so quickly, and we're looking for Ramadhan yet again--this blessed month that makes us stop in our tracks and reflect on our daily behavior. That takes us back to the beginning of Islam.
It begins with the constant readings of the Qur'an, duas, asma ul husna...every masjid and Islamic center sets the mood, replacing songs from the radio with the remembrance of Allah. Slowly, we begin to disconnect from the fast pace of our present lifestyles. Other behaviors that follow vary greatly: I have friends who stopped wearing makeup in Ramadhan, friends who chose to have zero physical contact with other men during Ramadhan, friends who started wearing hijab, did volunteer work at soup kitchens and masjids, and the list goes on...people slow down, don't feel the need to indulge their vanities, try to make time for the needy, or even try to put aside anything that was not happening at the Prophet's time.
For me, the feeling of Ramadhan and early Islam brings lots of visions, many of which coincide with the 'sustainable' lifestyle for which aware and conscientious people are striving. I can see the prophet eating a simple meal of dates, bread, and yogurt, repairing his own torn sandles instead of throwing them out, constantly reflecting on nature in his connection to Allah, and encouraging his followers and close family members to live a similar lifestyle of simplicity. His daughter Fatima and her husband Ali were very similar: they chose worship over luxuries, had nothing that was not a basic necessity, and gave generously to all who came to their door.
As it is, we have to fight this culture hard just to pray on time every day, let alone eat only 2 or 3 kinds of food and not be walking consumerists. But I'm praying this Ramadhan, we can strengthen our connection and move one step further than last year, and the years before.
Ramadhan 2008 is going to be particularly meaningful after the food crisis this summer, and knowing how many people were really deprived of food b/c of high prices. Its not easy to fast when its still so warm outside, but knowing that it helps us connect to the greater body of humanity beyond our own local geography reminds me how very profound it is that Allah prescribed this for us. (I'll admit though, I have to make up some fasts from last year, which is in part helping to prepare me for this year.)
What does the feeling of Ramadhan and early Islam do for you?