As my Muslim friends and family prepare to begin our first fast tomorrow, I reflect on what I hope to achieve this upcoming Ramadan, and how it feels slightly different from years before. In many ways, Ramadan is an annual reminder for me to check in on how I am doing personally and spiritually. It’s a spiritual 30-day boot camp full of intentionality. Going 17 hours without food and water from sunrise to sunset pushes me to empathize with those who face hunger as a daily reality. When I break my fast, I am intentional about fueling my body with a healthy, nutritious meal. Iftar is a time for friends and family to come together for a shared meal and to hit pause on the daily chaos of ‘being busy.’ Going to mosque to take part in the nightly Taraweeh prayers provides a safe space to worship alongside my Muslim brothers and sisters.
The month of Ramadan has always provided me with an opportunity to not only strengthen myself spiritually, but to strengthen my relationships with my Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
In middle school and high school, my community was defined as my family and friends. In college, it expanded to my campus and relationships that I made through study abroad, attending conferences, and work. Now, my global community consists of individual relationships around the world, all of whom I hold with great importance.
As I’ve gotten older, and my ‘community’ has expanded, so has the presence of social media in my life. Using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are easy and convenient ways to share content and keep to date with others. Social media has also made it easier to disengage with what’s going around us on a personal level, and in many cases, has replaced the role of personal conversations.
This Ramadan, I seek to unplug from the increasing use of social media and to recommit to personal communication. That may mean being intentional about attending more community iftars, inviting friends over and hosting my own potluck iftar, or calling a friend overseas whom I haven’t spoken to in a while. I hope that this Ramadan will serve as an opportunity to not only create new relationships, and to re-invest in the personal relationships that provide me so much strength and support. It is through these face-to-face human conversations that I hope we can continue to build bridges in our communities by sharing what the beautiful tradition of fasting means to us.