Goatmilk on Tuesday, Aug. 2nd
When Ramadan-ing, it’s encouraged to have a Ramadan State of Mind.
It’s a state of mind and state of body that is resilient to pain, longing, easy comfort and selfish desires.
An observer can easily perceive this month long fast as an exercise in masochism commanded by a sadistic Creator who enjoys denying his “trying-to-get by worshippers” food, water, sex and bad etiquette from sunrise to sunset. To add insult to famine, we’re also encouraged to increase our prayer –as if the daily 5 prayer ritual wasn’t enough – and give charity despite being mired in one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression.
The Usual Ramadan Wikipedia Posts
Your usual “Ramadan” blog posts give you a quick Wikipedia facts update on how this is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Upon sighting the new moon, Muslim communities worldwide become spiritually charged avatars of ascetic awesomeness immersed in reflection, forgiveness,prayer, reconciliation and generosity.
1.5 billion Muslims magically transform overnight and jettison their messy, imperfect, human emotional baggage, because that’s the miraculous power of Ramadan and being Muslim!
We become Yodas with kufis and Splinters in thobes. We are Mr. Miyagis and Morgan Freemans dispensing calm, sage advice and composing ourselves elegantly like a stereotypical ascetic monk only seen in Hollywood movies as quiet Asian men in robes.
This, my friends, is not reality.
Most of us spend at least half the month complaining about being Muslim and flirting with the idea that maybe worshipping fire (Zoroastrianism) isn’t such a bad gig.
The Nostalgia of Old Men
A few days ago I sat with a bunch of friends at Ma’s Halal Chinese Restaurant in San Jose, California, talking about the upcoming month of fasting.
We’re all old men now, mostly in our early 30’s, and gone are the days when we thought hair would last forever or we’d be able to sustain a 6 pack. Some of us have wives and kids, and mostly all carry a one-pack gut. We are good folks just trying to get by and we fondly remember the glory years when we could play basketball for 3 hours without stretching and then eat 2 slices of Blondie Pizzas and stay up for most of the night playing video games and still function with 2 hours of sleep.
“Man, it kinda sucks being Muslim. Islam really ruins my life sometimes,” I complained.
“Word. This Ramadan is gonna’ be brutal. Morning prayer is like at 4:50 am, then we have to go to work, then we break our fast at 8:45 pm,” a friend replied.
“Maybe you can trick Allah and move to Australia. They open fast at 5 pm. Or, just travel all month and you can do a write-off and make it up during the Winter,” another friend added.
“I thought about it, but I think Allah knows this stuff. F my life. Anyway, inshallah (God willing), it’ll be ok.”
“Yeah, I guess. At least there will be some bomb-ass iftars.” That was the group consensus: at least there will be some “bomb-ass iftars.”
Then, there’s the Muslims. They annoy the hell out of me. Islam would be far more pleasant if it had less Muslims. Really. Sometimes I feel like being Reverend Lovejoy of The Simpsons and suggesting other religions to the Ned Flanders of our communities.
We Muslims are obsessed with Unity for some reason, but can only unify on how much disunity exists within our communities. For the first time in years, every community is starting their fast on the same day. Some of you are asking, “Why? Don’t you all start at the beginning of the Islamic month?”
Well, there are two camps. I refer to them as “Moonies” and “Computer God Muslims.” The former say we have to see the new moon with the naked eye and only then we can officially begin Ramadan. The latter camp says we should rely on technology and if the new moon rises, despite being visible to the human eye, then we are officially a “go” for Ramadan.
Naturally, these two camps rarely agree thus resulting in major social awkwardness when telling our bosses, “Yeah, I might have to take either Tuesday or Wednesday off for Eid in a month. I’ll let you know in a bit. Yeah, it’s a Muslim thing. Just…trust me.”
But, fortuitously, this year “Moonies” and “Computer God Muslims” apparently made a truce with a celestial power, saw the crescent moon the same night, and now we’re all on the same schedule. Sweet!
Optimus Prime Muslims
But, sadly, this unity means bumping into more “Optimus Prime Muslims.” These are Muslims who transform during Ramadan – and only during Ramadan – into obnoxious, religious blowhards and completely change their personality and behavior traits for 30 days only to de-evolve into the same exact human being immediately on Eid, the day celebrating the end of fasting.
These guys stop listening to music, watching tv, logging on facebook, reading magazines and the whole shabang. Now, I have no problem with this. Go forth and free thyself from these technological crutches that have paralyzed human interactions, I say! However, I do have a problem with Optimus Prime Muslims lecturing me for being a heathen for occasionally watching a Netflix flick or catching a re-run of Dexter.
“You watch movies during RAMADAN!?!? Wow…ok, maybe we were…raised…differently. Well, Allah is Merciful…I guess.”
Listen, I don’t drink, do drugs, beat people up, snort cocaine off of strippers’ bellies, gamble or even know what bacon tastes like. Life is hard for a practicing Muslim. Relent. Give a brother some instant Netflix. That’s all I’m asking.
We also have family and friends. Ah, yes. Family and friends – how can we forget them: the cause and solution to so much of life’s joys and pain.
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