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Ramadan Awakens Your Heart to Compassion, Love and Kindness

We are nearing the end of Ramadan, the religious month of fasting in the Islamic tradition.

The haunting sound of prayer from the Mosque fills the busy streets. People are rushing to get home for evening prayer and Iftar (eating at sunset), after a long day of fasting. Families and neighbors come together to sit in the quiet night air as the sounds of prayer echoes through the hills and valleys, towns and cities.

This is what I remember as a young child growing up in Iran, and now decades later I find myself delving deeper into asking more questions: How is Ramadan, an old religious observance, significant and relevant in modern day life?

Ramadan is observed by millions of Moslems and is at a different calendar date each year.  During the month, there is fasting, coupled with prayer five times each day. The fast is from sunrise to sunset, and many observe it for the entire month. During these long hours of fasting, no food, or water can be had. Iftar is the time of breaking bread, before sunrise and sunset.

This strict fast is not easy to do for a month, as modern life keeps most busy with work, school, and numerous activities during the day. In the summer months this is even more challenging as the heat is high, and the body thirsts for hydration.

So why do this fast? What is really the reason behind this?

The fasting is not for losing weight or just a physical cleanse, it goes much deeper, and is spiritually rooted. It is to cleanse not only the body, mind and spirit and create purification, but to find a deeper connection to God, to become so light within, so naked, that the space of daily prayers birth from the purest place within us, thus creating a most sacred passage. The fast is also for one to recognize and understand hunger, and awaken to feelings of compassion for those who are suffering. The purpose is not to eat glutinously at the hour of sunset, but to be mindful of eating, of speaking, of thoughts, and actions.

Ramadan is a spiritual awakening, a powerful reminder for our beings, that we are weaved all together in this sacred dance of life, and that we should live mindfully, and take care of one another.  As the fast is created the soul empties itself of noise, chatter, and chaos. It releases earthly desires, and limitations. As the sacred time of prayer calls us to sit in the quiet communion with our Maker, the heart breaks open to forgiveness, compassion, kindness, love, clarity, and purpose. After a few days, the spiritual essence of our being is deeply felt, and our connection to Source strengthened, as we walk onto a new plateau of awareness and ultimately enlightenment.

It seems to me that our soul so yearns for this. Whether it is Ramadan, or any other time, whether we do a complete fast, or a liquid one, or for one day or a week, it is about honoring the sacred within us and deepening our connection to our Maker. In this day and age of social media and the constant barrage of information, this seems even more critical. Our souls thirst for this reverence, and it will guide us to find our center, our anchor, and will only support, strengthen, and make us more whole.

This is my new vision of Ramadan for our modern age: an allowance, release, awakening, and communion for our soul…a gift to embrace.

Mitra Rahbar is an Iranian-born teacher, speaker and singer/songstress. She is the author of Miraculous Silence: A Journey of Illumination and Healing Through Prayer, published by Penguin Random House. Mitra currently resides in Southern California and is an active leader in the Iranian American community.

This essay was featured in the June 2nd edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.




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