Fasting is something very satisfying. When you haven’t eaten or drank water for a whole day, your body feels so light, as if you were floating upon clear blue water…
Isn’t it difficult? Especially with the heat? And when you have to work?
At midday your body feels so weary, sometimes you have a headache and all you want to do is to lie down. When evening comes however, one feels so peaceful. The ritual of ‘Ndogou’ (breaking of the fast) is something so communal, something beautiful in all its extent.
In Senegal you eat dates and drink café Touba accompanied by fresh baguette. The first bite into the bread, the first sip of steaming coffee, is… heavenly. Sometimes I think that I am only fasting to feel these wonderful sensations at the end of the day.
But of course… there are many other reasons why. I am not religious, I don’t know if I could ever become a believer, but I have an immense respect for Islam. Sometimes I wish I could pray to someone so that I can be sure my family, my friends are alright. However, when I read the Quran, or if I go into a Christian church, I know that this is not my place.
So why am I doing Ramadan?
First of all I fast because I respect all those millions of Muslims around me who are going without food and water for the whole day. I don’t want to be the stupid Toubab buying dry bread at the boutique because ‘I-cannot-go-without-food-for-the-day’…
It is such a communal thing- Ramadan. Everyone does it and identifies with it. I do have some Muslim friends who are not fasting, but still…
I think Ramadan is not only good for the body, but also good for the soul. It helps you learn to control your body. It cleanses you from the inside.
On another page…
I believe (or maybe I want to believe), that Ramadan can help to heal personal difficulties. I am inundated with problems, with mistakes and regrets. How weird is it that I cannot believe in God, but somehow hope that fasting for a month will solve all these tangled complications in my life?
Last of all I fast because of culture. I not only want to see Senegal, I want to live, to love, to breathe, and to drink Senegal in its fullest form. I think that Ramadan is part of this beautiful country, something wonderful that I need to experience. And then there is also ‘La fete de la Korité’ (Eid-al-Fitr) right after the last fasting day… I am sure the religious festival is even greater and more overwhelming if one has taken part in the long journey of Ramadan.
If I was a Muslim, I would say: “Why are you even fasting? You don’t even believe in God? Do you even pray?”
But I don’t know. Ramadan has already done a lot of good for me.
I am definitely going to keep going until the end.