Ruqaya is proud of her Welsh heritage
Ruqaya's Ramadan diary part 2
In October 2005, Durham University student Ruqaya Izzidien wrote this diary, sharing her thoughts about observing Ramadan, Islam's holy month of fasting.
Ramadan is truly in full swing and University life is settling down, so how do the two react with each other? Well not always in the smoothest of ways, I admit. In fact, I think this Ramadan has probably been the hardest one I can remember.
It's partly my own fault. It was rather stupid to give blood the day before my first fast, but I lived to tell the tale.
However walking an average of around 4 miles a day, living half way up Elvet Hill (or, as it has been aptly named, ‘Cardiac Hill’- because it gives you cardiac arrest) and trying your best to concentrate in lectures does take its toll... especially when the person next to you keeps falling asleep. I thought he was nodding in agreement with the lecturer, but then realised he was actually literally nodding off.
Anyway to me this is irrelevant, it’s not about my physical state at all, it’s about my spiritual state.
I keep hearing exclamations along the lines of "What? You’re not even allowed water…isn’t that bad for your health?"
But it gets easier, and now I don't really care anymore because I've realised something. The more hungry I am throughout the day, the more I appreciate the food, and, I know it sounds clichéd but, the more hungry it makes me for my religion.
I remember my first glass of water on the first day I fasted this year. I don't think I'd ever appreciated water so much. Sure, not the most inspirational of images, in a busy dinner hall, with a plastic cup, (and it wasn't the sweet Welsh water I was used to), but I could just feel myself cleansing away. It was invigorating.
Being in Durham for Ramadan was a big challenge for me. It’s not physically being away from home that is hard, the difficulty lies in being independent. It’s not that I've ever doubted my religion, but this time I am responsible for it myself.
Despite the fact that I've been brought up as a Muslim, fasting every year, I am so independently passionate about Islam. Now I suddenly realise how close I have become to my religion but, more interestingly, how far I used to be from it.
Art and religion
Before I left home, I decided to incorporate two of my passions, Islam and painting. I painted an extract from the Qur'an about peace. To me it epitomizes Islam, and reminds me of how wrong some interpretations of Islam are.
I knew that being independent and ‘free’ would be my first real test of faith, and although I have felt a bit undutiful at times, I feel as though I have survived, and that was a real reassurance.
I brought my painting with me to Durham as a reminder of what I believe, what Islam means to me and as a reminder of who I am.
I was telling a friend who I'd met here about this and about how I was worried that I might forget who Ruqaya is, when they said to me, "You don't strike me as the kind of person who would forget themselves in a hurry".
And I suddenly realised that it’s true, I could never forget Islam, I could never forget who I really am. I couldn't help smiling.
(Originally published in October 2005.)
last updated: 01/09/2008 at 10:48