With the setting of the sun far atop the concrete jungle that is Toronto city, the first day of Ramadan came to an end. To the optimistic mind, this month is specially marked with hope, for introspection, reflection and change for the betterment of ourselves and solidarity with the impoverished masses of the world, which estimates show are over one billion. For nearly one fifth of the global population, our averaging three-meals-a-day routine where we systematically chug and chew down copious amounts of food and drink would seem a wondrous luxury. When it really shouldn't be.
Neither a Muslim, nor a follower of the Roman Catholic sect I was born into, I took it upon myself to fast today. I told none save for my boyfriend whom inspired me to do so in the first place; firstly, fasting is a personal act. Secondly, if I told my parents I can expect to have the sky fall down on my head, along with an avalanche of admonishment and a long period of stone cold silence towards me in the aftermath of that storm. Their fervent antipathy always confused me as I grew up in a household where church visits were a bi-annual affair for Christmases and Easter Sundays just so when the grandparents rang up from the homeland, mother and father could tell them they just went to church, hang up with "God Bless", and any day of the year thereafter proclaim themselves agnostics when nudged to clarify their religious sidings. But this is less their story than mine, and so is my perspective-altering experience of fasting for the day.
My initial assumption was the belief I would feel like day-old dried meat within a few hours. Despite those qualms of a negligent mind, I made my promise to God the night before I would do it. As my boyfriend had advised, I did not stay in and rest in bed all day but went about my regular day activities, namely studying for my french exam drawing close in a few days. I avoided thinking about what I was going without. And to my amazement, by five in the afternoon I was very much as alert and focused as I had been at 8am. I had studied nearly five hours at a stretch with no mental or physical distractions. Aweing at this fact, I realised what the true Muslims say about Ramadan to a great extent is true; this month in the lunar calendar is special more so in that the doors to all temptations are closed, and it is much easier now to change bad habits and thought patterns than in any other time of the year - if you believe and take it upon yourself to accomplish, thy will be done.
An hour before breaking fast, my boyfriend recited several psalms to me in Arabic from the Quran and then translated them. The meditative effect of philosophical teachings and poetry combine in strong effect in scripture verses, which is literally food for the soul. A small prayer and then some water, which one feels the true worth of in heavier weighting than gold after a day going without. A bit later, a good meal with thanks is given, and by which point I feel mentally stronger with the capacity to make the rest of my resolutions take effect from right this minute. And that's what Ramadan is all about, making it happen.
A Blessed Ramadan to all of you.