Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ramadan: My Favorite Thing About Egypt... EVER!

June 18, 2015: Ramadan Kareem! In my chosen home of Cairo, the Holy Month has officially started, and Muslims (and those up for the human or spiritual challenge) are off food, drink and sex. Sounds crap? It actually isn’t. Believe it or not, Sina has become a Ramadan enthusiast. One may not be less religious than me, whether it’s Buddhism or Christianity, but while preparing a Ramadan article for an American publication yesterday, I actually became a fan. Now I may not be interested in reconnecting with a religious deity for a month, but the central ideas of Ramadan have impressed me, and made me want to tag along. Looks like I finally got something about this culture…

My favorite thing about Ramadan is experiencing need and making the right conclusions from making that experience. There is nothing wrong with denying yourself basic pleasures to be able to connect to those who can’t enjoy them. I’m a somewhat Christian girl who really has close to no affiliation to the Holy Month of Ramadan and I still believe it would be a humbling and transcendent experience to feel need, be hungry and thirsty and start appreciating what I have. When I think about it, it really is no different to the reason I went to Kenya back in the day. I believed relating to a culture where you own nothing but yourself would make me value my life more. And miraculously enough, it did!

But there are many more reasons why I think Ramadan is a rather good thing about Islam. Whoever says otherwise never really thought about it. One may think that it’s pointless to fast for a God but even without a God fasting ain’t bad for you. And let’s not forget that the true thought behind it is empathizing with the less fortunate. Ramadan is also about charity, sharing your Iftar table with the needy and dedicating a month to reaching out in order to spiritually gain for the rest of the year. Let’s take Trump, for example, who just announced how rich he is. Looking at his volume I’m sure that guy has no idea what need is in any way. Maybe it’d be a great experience for him to make during his presidential campaign and actually feel what some of those Americans he vows to lead are dealing with.

Although I am unable to take part in Ramadan this year, at least for the whole month, me and my German friend were talking today about how we’re jealous of this experience. Granted, we can also stay away from our food and drink but our experience will be very different. Why? Because Ramadan is about family, and we don’t really have one. These Muslims look forward to reconnecting with their families and friends. One friend was telling me he shares special moments with his high school friends during Iftar who he never sees otherwise. I don’t even have high school friends, at least not in the radius of a thousand miles. My sister is my family, and even though she fasts, she doesn't equal a cultural entity that I will just not have after one year here, So even if I go through this ordeal of abstinence, at the end of the day I will not be surrounded by my family, I’m not in a Muslim community that I can exchange with and the one person I would like to share this with isn’t around anymore either.

At the end of the day (literally!) we are left with nothing but an insight into a culture that I know the rest of my circles have no clue about. We love to hate on religious customs, but if you think outside of the religious box all this makes a lot of sense. I feel truly humbled by having the chance to experience this astonishing time first hand and having stories to tell for a long time after this. I think this might be the moment everyone was waiting for but I actually appreciate being in Egypt now. I may rebel against religion but I can’t rebel against good ideas, and Ramadan is just that. And maybe, (most likely) I’m just jealous of those with a God, those with a family and those who aren’t as lost as me…

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