What I find most interesting about fasting is that it is a very personal, yet an extremely communal activity.
Personal: It’s something you do as an act of worship, on your own time with consideration to yourself. If you don’t fast, no one around you can tell unless you give yourself up. Fasting is an individual decision to not only abstain from eating and drinking, but to act properly and abstain from anything that is “questionable.” It requires work – your own time and energy. When it’s time to break your fast, no one else can do it for you. You alone have your particular sensation of water rolling down a parched throat. You alone have your particular sensation of your tongue suddenly seized with sweetness as you bite into a date. It’s all you.
Communal: Yet as you fast individually you know that are billions of Muslims around the world who are also fasting. You know that while you stand singularly to pray there are Muslims lined up next to you, in reality and metaphorically, to say so many of the same verses and commit the same actions of prayer. While you break your fast and have your particular senses of water and dates, Muslims around you are experiencing their own sensations of the first bite and drink of the day. There are Muslims everywhere Mashallah, and you are breaking fast with them, praying with them, feeling relieved and busy together.
So you see that in Ramadan everything you do is as much an individual effort as it is a communal effort.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the global community.
Sometimes we become focused on just what we see. We see our family and friends, neighbors, maybe some regulars at the masjid and that’s who we define as community – which is not wrong. But we can forget that the Muslim community has no borders. Beyond our little commuting scope there are Muslims on practically every continent (I can’t say anything about Antarctica; is it still barren?).
As mentioned by a law firm Melbourne guest in a previous post, there are Muslims in China that are struggling against the law to observe Ramadan. Many Muslim soccer players who participated in FIFA 2014 were fasting once Ramadan started. Muslims in lands of turmoil are fasting with more difficulty than any of us could probably imagine. So you see, fasting during the month of Ramadan is not only a global effort, but a global phenomenon.
In recognition of this fact, and the fact that I do not have the means to take these pictures on my own, here are a few links to pictures taken of Muslims observing the month of Ramadan in various countries.
I’m singing praises of the people who cook tons of food for others while they fast.
I love the advent calendar idea.
It’s all about community: here and here.
People praying together is always a beautiful sight Subhanallah.
And here’s a link to compare just how long some Muslims are fasting this month.
So you see, the Ummah spreads far and wide, and is beautiful.
This is the case always, but I feel a strong sense of unity and community especially during the month of Ramadan when I know that we are all fasting the same, acting the same, worshiping the same. I hope to keep my Muslim brothers and sisters in every nation with every circumstance in my duas, for dua is the best gift one Muslim can give to another.
The 30 Days of Ramadan series is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-TX Communications Intern. Enjoy more of her writing on her personal blog, Religion in the Melting Pot.