Ramadan mobarak to all.
Due to a medical condition I am unable to fast. In fact I have been unable to fast for about five years now. I feel that the last few ramadans have sort of passed me by, because I don’t really have any Muslim friends and don’t live near my family, and I can’t fast, so they have just blurred past without much engagement and this has made be feel sad. So I am trying to make more of an effort this year, because Ramadan is not just about fasting and whilst I can’t fast, there are other things I can do that are still part of the spirit of the month.
I have decided therefore that I am going to forgo chocolate during daylight hours, as well as sex, and alcohol (chocolate will be the only one I will really struggle with!) It’s a bit like a much easier version of lent.
I am also going to try my best to read the entire Qur’an with the accompanying contextual/interpretation materials that I have in my fantastic copy of The Message of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad. It is my favourite English translation of the Qur’an and the interpretation information is so interesting and useful, particularly because Asad often gives his own interpretation of vague parts and also gives one or two different interpretations from other well-known scholars, so it enables me as a reader to have a good think about it and consider which makes most sense to me or connects with me the most. If you’ve ever thought about reading Qur’an I would absolutely recommend this edition over any other.
I have found a webpage detailing how much to read each day to get through it all during Ramadan, so I am going to loosely follow that.
I also thought I might try and post each day a story or a part of a verse that I read that day that I connected with.
So for today, what touched me was reading a part in Surah 2, Al Baqarah (The Cow) where God was telling us not to prevent people worshipping in places of worship. Asad explained in his footnotes that an example of this from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s time is in 10AH when a Christian visitation from Najran (in today’s Saudia Arabia) came to visit, and the Prophet (pbuh) made sure that they had free access to his mosque and had his explicit consent to worship in line with their beliefs in his mosque, despite them being Christian and believing some things that are explicitly rejected in Islam (such as the idea of Jesus [pbuh] being the son of God for example). I thought this was a really nice story about tolerance and diversity and to me it embodies exactly what I think mosques are supposed to be about, i.e. welcoming places for worship, open to anybody, and able to facilitate and accept different types of worship, recognising the plurality of humankind and seeking to facilitate relationships with God in all their different forms.