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Ramadamming Ramadhan 2008

"A whole month?! No food and water for a whole month! Oh my God, you're gonna die!"

I assured my non-muslim friend that I was going to eat everyday, have access to water, people, free speech and daylight, so chillax.

Ramadhan is here, Subhan'allah*. It has come once again far too fast and will almost definitely rush past before you can say 'Iftar-time'. Finding the moon was hilarious today, hoping to start fasting with everyone else in the world. The Islamic ruling is to see the new crescent moon 'hilal' with the naked eye. In Britain? With the atmospheric pollution and overbearing clouds?! Ha!

And so we resorted to scientifically proven methods: "Follow that satellite dish!" says one uncle from across the masjid hall; "No, you're looking in the wrong direction - it's that flashing moon look". After kindly correcting the Masjid-goers to stop following airplane lights, the wonderful Moonsighting website put our quarrels to rest. Tonight IS the 30th of Shaban and therefore despite not seeing the moon, it is best, according to Ahadith* to take tomorrow, as the 1st of Ramadhan. Yayy!

This year the resolutions come pouring in, albeit all with cynicism and negative-karma. Families and friends alike are rushing to greet me 'Oh Ramadhan-mubarak! I'm not ready, crap, are you? Ramadhan Kareem! Gosh, I don't know what to wear for Eid this year...' I think our Ramadhan-priorities got muddled up with last year's 'what's hot' trends. But I don't mean to nitpick - Alhamdulillah*, Ramadhan Mubarak to all readers. May God, whether you believe in Him or not, bring you peace, contentment, success, love, health, wealth and a strong character.

A few months ago, a high school friend found me through the www. Little did I know that this was her opportune time to 'touch base' with Islam. 'Do you do Ramadamming every year?' she asked innocently. The 'Ramadamming' does happen every year, I explained, as the 9th lunar month. Thus the questioning let loose: 'And do all Muslims go on this diet to help reduce obesity or what?' Hmmm... 'When you fast, do you get psychic powers or something?' If only. and my favourite 'What's that Islam for' Question: 'Can you take an afternoon snack and keep a half-fast or send your god an I.O.U. for missing it?' Ah.

Fasting for muslims can only be described as a spiritual journey, whatever the media or your muslim family tells you, fasting most definitely is travelling within. They get on abstinence car, take pit stops of extra generosity, charity, and refuelling with trust and patience; all this on a road of discipline, driving towards the destination of inner peace and complete love for God.

This analogy sat well with my friend. 'Oh cool, so you're all like Mahatma Gandhi!' Hmmkay, close enough. I'm certain Gandhi loved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh*) and fasted to become closer to God, fighting the temptation to take revenge and teaching his companions to resort to engaging, communicating and becoming better people. He had inner-muslimness didn't he?

I sincerely hope and pray this month will force the best out of everyone on the planet, that it won't be rehab for muslims who lazily drop back into old habits as soon as it's over and that Eid isn't the commercalised Christmas of muslim markets. God bless you all and have mercy on us all and reward us for every tiny effort we make, really, we need it.

*Ahadith, Prophetic sayings, ie sayings of Prophet Muhammad [hadith = sing., ahadith = plural]
*Subhan'Allah, Muslim phrase in Arabic meaning 'Glory to Allah'
*Alhamdulillah, Arabic, 'All Praise to Allah'
*PBUH - Peace be with him, ie. Muhammad

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