Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rules for Ramadan

We are now almost half way through the Muslim month of fasting known as Ramadan. During this month followers of Islam world wide abstain from eating everyday from sun up to sun set. It is an interesting time here where I live in Central Asia since the government itself does not believe in Islam and in many ways tries to suppress any religious expression. Students who attend University are not allowed to practice any faith during the duration of their studies, however many of them ignore this rule and still try to live out the faith passed on to them from their families.

For those students who do decide to fast there are many obstacles to over come. There are no restaurants open on campus that early in the morning, and they would get caught trying to leave campus before sunrise. The school also hires other students to rise early in the morning and walk the halls. Their job is the listen at the door ways of each dorm for rustling or any noise that might indicate that someone is breaking the rules. The students who do choose to fast must either awake even earlier, learn to eat in the dark in complete silence, or as most of them do, just choose to skip breakfast and wait until sunset to eat their first meal of the day.

One thing I notice every year at this time is how much the fast is not about fellowship with god, but about letting all your neighbours know how pious and faithful you are. They fast to get noticed. From everything I have read on fasting it seems like it is kind of missing the real point.

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