A Longing of My Soul

Religion is beautiful when it nourishes the human spirit and inspires the believer to help their community, to value their family, to engage with other humans in a just way.  Often people use religion to suit their own interest, manipulate the truth and exploit and oppress others.  But in fact, religion isn’t complicated at all. I have been very fortunate to have a circle of friends and acquaintances from many countries, cultures, and religions.  A few lessons that I learned during my spiritual journey:  We human beings no matter where we are from, no matter what religion we practice, we are very similar than we are different.  Our basics needs are the same.  The most important lesson that I learned during my spiritual journey is that love in itself is a prayer and our relationship with our creator is very sacred.  Only God knows what’s in your heart, what our intentions are. I believe every human being has a part of God within them.

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This past summer I went to Philly and while wandering around , I came across this beautiful church.  I went in and prayed.

I am constantly learning and evolving and reinventing myself, living in a Muslim country, I have realized that there is not one face of Islam, not one way that people worship.  Within every culture and every religion people live their lives in a multitude of ways.  Therefore, there is a diversity within Islam itself, that transcend the limits of race and ethnicity.  Some people will make you feel like you are not Muslim enough or Christian enough. Ignore them!  It only emanates from their lack of faith.   I also learned that prayer isn’t about asking for help, it’s a daily admission of one’s weakness, it is a longing of the soul.  The value of persistent prayer is: one day you will finally hear your creator.  Although one might label me as a Muslim, in reality, I believe in all religions.  I am much more than the labels people use to identify me.  So I leave you with a little prayer:

I pray that I have eyes that see the best in people and a heart that forgives the worst and a soul that never loses faith.  

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This  beautiful mosque is in Washington D.C. 

 

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ONE MONTH. ONE CAUSE. ONE PEOPLE.

 Every year, I patiently anticipate the month of Ramadan, my favorite month of the year. For my non-Muslim friends wondering what Ramadan is, Ramadan is like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but more like 30 days of Christmas. Everyday, during the month of Ramadan about 1.6 billion Muslims around the world spend their daylight hours fasting. From sunrise to sunset, from dawn to dusk, we abstain from food, water, any sort of beverage, and other physical needs.

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During Ramadan the streets are decorated with lights and lanterns.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims often donate to charities and feed the hungry. Fasting is intended to remind us of the suffering of those less fortunate. However, the month of Ramadan is not about suffering, it’s a month filled with gratitude, forgiveness, compassion and countless blessings. It’s about something so much greater than I could describe or put into words. Just imagine 1.6 billion people around the world united for one cause ,imagine everyone in your hemisphere breaking their fast at the exact same moment, regardless of their location . Ramadan is about oneness and unity. 

Fasting isn’t just a disconnection between the human body and food, it’s about the purification of your soul, it’s about building a connection between you and your spirit and ultimately God, a connection so strong that you feel an outer body experience. The best way I could describe it,  as though your soul is being nourished and cleansed while your stomach is on empty. You are preventing your mind from becoming a slave to your desires. Everyday you awake, as though you are a newborn,  forgiven of your sins and shortcomings.

People in Istanbul, Turkey, break their fast at charity tables that offer free meals during the month of Ramadan. In any Muslim country, around the world no person is left to starve during the holy month of Ramadan.  All across the Muslim world, charity tables are setup in order to feed the homeless or anyone who isn’t able to make back home in time to break their fast.
People in Istanbul, Turkey, break their fast at charity tables that offer free meals.  All cross the Muslim world no person is left to starve during the holy month of Ramadan.  Charity tables are setup in order to feed the homeless or anyone who isn’t able to make it back home in time to break their fast.

 

Ramadan is much more than not eating and drinking, it’s about self-sacrifice, it’s about strengthening your relationship with your creator, it’s about cleansing in every way possible, it’s about mending relations, asking for forgiveness, it’s about restraining from bad thoughts or words, it’s about detaching from worldly pleasures, it’s about reflection.

This year Ramadan fell in the middle of the year, despite the heat and the long hours of fasting, I’m glad that Ramadan started in June, since June is the half mark till the end of the year. The month of Ramadan is a good way to slow us down in our tracks and let us reflect on what we have done since the beginning of the year and to prepare for what’s ahead of us. It’s a time where we can re-evaluate our lives, a time for peace and spiritual rejuvenation.

Reflecting , balancing your mind, body and soul.
Reflecting , balancing your mind, body and soul.

I urge my non-Muslim friends to partake in one day of fasting. Trust me, it will be an experience you won’t forget, whatever religion you follow, just try it out for a day, and if you want to break your fast with some company you’re always welcome to come to my house. My door is always open.

For my Muslim friends, please reach out to anyone who’s spending Ramadan without their family, or anyone who wants to know about the culture of Ramadan, invite them over for iftar. Inviting someone during the month of Ramadan is one of the noblest deeds.

I wish you all a peaceful, spiritual, enlightening, enriching experience during Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem!!!iftar