American in Arabia: Is Ramadan turning him African?
The Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan is over. And during this time, it became clear that parts of my conscience are becoming Arab—or is it more African?
The Western individualism in me used to say that a Muslim’s fast is not my concern. Why should your religious choices affect my life?
But now I realize that it is my concern. In that spirit, instead of just trying to endure closed restaurants, this year my heart’s desire was that my friends, neighbors and even strangers would have a good Ramadan. And not because it means they are less grumpy towards me.
No, the collective pursuit of God or honoring of traditions by my community does involve me --- the better they are, the better we are.
African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says it best:
“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about interconnectedness.
You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.
We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity”
I asked a friend of mine what the sheikh preached about during Ramadan. The topics were patience and gratefulness. These are good things to ponder- for my neighbor, my community and even myself.
I’m grateful he went to the mosque every night for a month. Many of the men in our neighborhood went. Will this manifest in a blessing for the community and will patience and thanksgiving spread out to the whole of humanity?
It certainly can’t decrease the positive Ubuntu flavor in our circles of relationship-- every little bit counts. We just have to be patient.
By Brett Weer