Thought For The Day - Sarah Joseph - 10/07/2013
Today is the first day of Ramadan - 30 days of fasting have begun.
When asked about the month, the focus tends to be on what is being given up. People are often aghast when they find out that no food or drink may be consumed from before sunrise until sunset, which given it is summer in Britain, means almost 19 hours of fasting.
Yet within the community the focus is not really on what is being lost, but rather on what can be gained. Once the month is declared upon the sighting of the new moon, there is a celebratory feel. Emails, text messages and phones calls are exchanged with the greeting “Ramadan Kareem” – May Ramadan be generous to you! There is a genuine sense of excitement.
The month presents enormous opportunities for spiritual growth and renewal. Its main purpose is to increase you in God consciousness. No matter how distant one is from thoughts of the Creator and the ultimate human reality in the rest of the year, Ramadan has a magnetism which pulls you back into contemplation.
Every Ramadan is unique. You bring with it your needs, your concerns, your spiritual starting point, and somehow the month comes out to meet you.
My first Ramadan in 1988 was my introduction into the faith, having chosen to become a Muslim just weeks before. I experienced a community bond and the welcome of families. We broke fast together and I was uplifted in the solidarity that the shared experience brought.
This year I start Ramadan in a very sombre place. Tomorrow is Srebrenica Memorial Day, and I have spent the past weeks working on a magazine remembering the genocide that took place in 1995. Having read through countless accounts of killings, rapes, and torture, you begin to question the foundations of your humanity. How can anyone do this to another?...