Clash of Beliefs
By Rawd A.
Ramadan is finally here. The excitement of the Ramadan TV shows, the joy of family gatherings, the excellent foods each night on eftar, and the pretty lights and lamps in each neighborhood, all these are in the air. But is that it? Is Ramadan becoming just another month, only with decorations? What is really happening in the minds of our youth?
Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five mandatory obligations in Islam (Shahadatein, Salah, Sawm, Zakat, and Hajj). Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. In this month Muslims ask for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. Another main purpose is to learn about the suffering of the poor and needy, and learn how to feel with them. Ramadan is a month of giving charity and sharing meals to break the fast together.
All these benefits for Ramadan and still the rising trend among youths is non-fasting. The situation brings many intriguing questions to my mind. Is it our culture; is our culture not persistent enough on us to fast? Is it maybe religious beliefs? Or is peer pressure much stronger than faith? All these questions gave me one choice, asking people what they personally believe…
Samir is a Muslim young man. He fasts, he prays five times a day, he gives his old clothes and some money to the poor and needy every year, he repeats the Shahadatein, (which is believing and stating there is only one God, Allah, and that prophet Muhammad is his profit,) many times during the day, and he believes that one day he will go to Mecca and perform Hajj. People who are like that are a minority in West Amman. Most of the young ladies who do perform all five mandatory obligations are veiled.
"I do fast, because that's the only thing we can do for God besides being nice to people." When speaking with Areen, she said that fasting is proved to be healthy for your body. She believes that it is one of the ways of thanking God for the boundless blessings, and since it's the least time and effort consuming after shahadatein, why not do it?
There is a great percentage of people like Areen who asks that Q, who believe in the five mandatory obligations to God, and who believe that fasting is the easiest amongst them aside from shahadatein, and so they do it.
Abed believes in what Areen had to say. "That way," as Abed says, "I can soothe my conscience."
"I do believe in God, but I don't believe fasting is a method to thanking Him. Good deeds are far more important."
Many amongst the like-a-prayers I met believed that Islam is about good deeds, it's about forgiving, being honest, and helping others. To them, the mandatory obligations aren't really mandatory; they are there to guide people so they can become honest, forgiving, and helpful.
On the other hand, a few of those who are non-fasting say that why fast when they do nothing else from the obligations. Like Anood, 21. "I do not fast because I do not do anything else my religion has told me to do, and fasting to me would just seem like Hypocrisy." Anood said. But if that's what Anood truly believes shouldn't she be doing all five? Believing in all five obligations but still doing none of them because one is not enough makes her a spiritually tired person.
After speaking with those who i stated and others, asking them many specific questions, I realized that peer pressure has little to do with non-fasting fashion. Our young minds perceive their own beliefs and act accordingly. Maybe people can be affected by other people's points of views and beliefs, but they won't stop fasting, or start fasting, unless they themselves alter their own beliefs.
Unfortunately, from what I witnessed on the streets, most people don't really know the true meaning of fasting. This phenomenon is popular in Jordan. Some people have even given it a name, "Joo' Klaab", or "Dogs' Hunger." Contrary to Islam's idea of fasting, Dogs' Hunger means that people fast by refraining themselves only from eating or drinking or smoking. However, good deeds like being forgiving, honest, and decent to other people is not part of fasting.
Just the other day as I was driving around in Amman, a man in a car behind me was so frustrated because of the slow moving traffic, rush hour is a bitch after all (excuse my language!). He was too furious, and when I looked at him from the rear-view mirror, he was cussing and throwing bad words, aloud! He looked me right in the eye and I saw pure rage. I looked away and avoided an eye contact. After a while when I parked in The Safeway Stores parking, he came in and parked right in front of me. And when he came out of the car he looked at me with rage again and I couldn't help asking him if he was fasting or not. Walked away directly though and wasn't going to wait for an answer, and honestly I didn't really want to know, I just wanted to remind him that fasting is not about "not eating," it's about a lot more.
So, faiths do clash. But somewhere in the middle of the war between them, lays the true meaning of what we do or don't do. Maybe someday like-a-prayers would understand that, and maybe not. But a young lady with dreams cannot help but hope for a brighter future.
Editor's Note: Rawd's adventures a sensitive field. Article " Clash of Beliefs" is based on a personal and general perspective and doesn't promote any hidden agendas or purposes, as it's religion-expressing. Written upon Rawd's own personal views that's comprehended by the society's religious side. If the article was short to cover certain areas we apologize, or felt offensive (regarding some of the interviewees' statements), that falls on an opinionated country with personal point of views.