Category Archives: Pillars

Not even water

Ramadan Musings – 15 things I learned from fasting Ramadan             

Currently we are in the holy month of Ramadan.   

Before I was Muslim I never knew when Ramadan happened, let alone what it was all about. At the completion of my first Ramadan in the hot Aussie summer of 98/99, I joyfully wrote of list of about 30 amazing things I gained from that month. I don’t know what ever happened to it, it was hand scrawled on a loose sheet of A4 and contained things like “learned to cook”, but almost 2 decades later the list continues to grow.

In case you are unaware (as I once most certainly was), Ramadan is the 9th month on the lunar calendar. It begins with the sighting of a new crescent moon, and falls approximately 10 days earlier each Gregorian calendar year – so it moves through the seasons. During this month – of 29 or 30 days (dependent on the sighting of the next crescent), put simply – Muslims don’t EAT or DRINK a single thing from just before the dawn till the sun has set. No, not even water.   

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. A key that opens a door. And whilst the spiritual and heavenly benefits are extolled greatly within the Islamic scripture, here I share my own experience. 


So what is Ramadan really?

It is a month of deep reflection – detatch from the material world, contemplate the grand, the great, the eternal

It is a month of struggle, of striving, of self discipline as we endure mild and temporary discomforts, a mere glimpse of what it’s like for the less fortunate of our world

It is a month of hope – change is possible, anything is possible, knowing God presides over all things

It is a month of blessings – where we witness for ourselves internal and external amazements and bounties 

It is a month of charity – of genuine empathy and giving, giving, giving

It is a month of worship – where we stand in prayer at night, humbling ourselves before the All Mighty, acknowledging our great need of Him, in awe of His Greatness

It is a month of forgiveness – forgiving others, overlooking their faults, that the Lord of The Worlds may overlook our own

It is a month of cleansing – a chance to detox from our physical addictions and gain control over those desires which drag us down

It is a month of patience – of learning to wait quietly without complaint till you can have what you want

It is a month of deep gratitude – even just for being one who partakes in this epic month of blessings, even for a simple glass of water

It is a month of healing – without the task of constant digesting the body can divert its resources to healing and restoring itself where needed

It is a month of connection – with 1.6 Billion other people who are doing the same thing, following in the footsteps of the Prophets, and those who believed before us

It is a month spirituality – rejuvenating the soul, deepening ones belief, strengthening ones connection to The Creator of the Universe 

It is a month of peace – where the heart and the soul finds deep contentment, stillness, just being, just worshipping, just reflecting, just connecting, to God

It’s a month of striving – to try to become a better version of yourself.

It is so more than a month of just ‘fasting’.     

May it’s fragrance gently brush by you, 

May it’s sweet dust fall on your weary shoulders, 
May it’s bounty enrich your life, 

May it’s contentment touch your heart, 

May it’s peace reach your soul.   

Ameen.

Love & Peace.   

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Automatic

Wearing a hijab with a non-Middle Eastern face incurs it’s fair share of stares.  Confused passers-by,  shop assistants,  co-workers – some can be initially at a loss to compute what seems like your average western woman wrapped in foreign fabric.

I came across this post:  a hijab wearing woman’s take down when a man tells her she shouldn’t be driving (link also below),  because she’s a Muslim, and in Saudi, women don’t drive.  She responded with a #shutdown history lesson  bringing his ignorance of the wider world and it’s religions to the forefront.

But what is interesting to me about this post is that it highlights the fact that the average person automatically associates All Things Islam with Saudi Arabia.  

Yes Islam originated there, but Christianity also hails from the Middle East.  Yes Makkah & Madinah are holy cities, but I am pretty sure a lot of people all over the world would consider Bethlehem and Jerusalem holy cities too.
For everyone who believes in & loves Jesus (peace be upon him),  which includes every Muslim ever – Islam being the only other major world religion that makes it a Pillar of Faith to believe in and love Jesus –  was he not also a young Middle Eastern man?  Yet how many people automatically associate Christianity mainly with people of middle eastern heritage?

Saudi Arabia has a population of 28 million, whilst Muslims worldwide number 1.6 billion, so Saudi nationals make up less than a tenth of one percent of the Muslim world. (Assuming I got my zeros correct!)


Why this post reverberates with me is because I can see the confusion behind the quizzical expressions in response to coming across such an apparent anomaly.   Sometimes a conversation is struck and I tell them I converted to Islam.  After responding ‘no’ to the next statement-question  (“Oh so you married an Arab”)  I can see them now wondering “why would you want to be (like a) Saudi Arabian ?”,  when the truth is I no more identify with Saudi culture than I do with that of the Eskimoes.

However I don’t blame people for their lack of understanding.   I try to be patient and friendly when explaining myself for the umpteenth time (especially with the elderly for whom I have a soft spot).   Afterall, most of us automatically live our lives in our little local bubbles,  automatically adhering to the standard preset milestones of our culture, which doesn’t usually include a good bout of soul searching (let alone changing ones religion) , though most people experience some kind of universe-questioning events in life  at some point anyway.

We may close our minds and automatically take on media fed stereotypical concept of Islam and Muslims.   But now that we can drive down the information superhighway,  we can change directions, take new paths, read the signs.  It doesn’t hurt to slow down, put ourselves in manual for a while, look at lifes map, contemplate the journey.

Islam is the simple, timeless call to the worship of One Unique Almighty God.

It is an open invitation to every human being ever born, that began with Prophet Adam in the year dot and will continue till the end of time, reaching every corner of the earth.

It’s adherants are as diverse as all humanity.

I’m so glad we have the internet now to just put that out there, especially as western women constitute one of the largest group of converts to the faith.  Perhaps oneday soon people will see a non Middle Eastern Hijabi and think ‘oh she converted to Islam’.  Automatically.

Muslim Woman’s Response to Man who tells her she shouldn’t be driving.  https://www.indy100.com/article/muslim-woman-perfectly-shuts-down-bigot-who-asked-her-why-she-was-driving-7309101

Ramadan: 10 things I’ve gained this month (& its definitely not kilos)

With the completion of Ramadan last week, I’ve listed 10 things I’ve gained from fasting this year. I hope you enjoy my little insights!

1.  We are stronger than we think we are – one cannot only go day after day without food and drink (during the daylight hours) for an entire month but you can actually thrive and have energy under these circumstances

2.  We need much less than we think we need

3.  Ramadan can be very productive – I have done most of my year end procedures at work (accounting) on an empty stomach. Without coffee breaks, lunch breaks and the subsequent toilet breaks, one can plough through the day’s tasks

4.  Whilst most days in Ramadan are mostly about patience – having to wait to have what you want – some days ARE tough. Somedays you just are really tired and really hungry. And you just have to get through it.

5. Naps are awesome. (But I’ve always known that).

6.  Cooking and food preparation CAN be very pleasurable! (I do like cooking in Ramadan)

7.  Getting up before sunrise to have breakfast is not really that difficult but I will never love it

8. In a society based on instant gratification, the regular feeling of an empty stomach is almost profound

9.  Prayer is one of life’s essentials. I just don’t know how atheists do it.

10.  Ramadan is a bit of a marathon, with highs and lows. Even though it can be tough, I am grateful for it & would hate to miss out on it. As we know, days turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and our life whizzes by. How good to have a pause button, a reset button, a stop and think and pray and contemplate button. Alhamdullillah (Thanks be to God).

Whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter what you believe, I wish you all much peace, blessings and happiness in your life 💙 I pray that every human on this earth has at least food, shelter and love 💗

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