Yesterday marks 3 months since I converted to Islam. Tonight begins the first night of Ramadan and I am soo excited! I have fasted for Ramadan for the past 3 years with my husband, but this will be my first Ramadan as a Muslim. :)
Ramadan is a month in the lunar calendar that Muslims observe as a month of fasting. From sunrise to sunset, we fast from food, drink, etc. The first year I committed to fasting, I was terrified. I tend to be an emotional eater and didn't think I could make a whole day without food! Towards the middle of that first year, I could not believe how great I felt. I remember thinking "You didn't die! You did it in support of your husband! & you did it to try something you've never done before!"
Now Ramadan means so much more to me. To me it's a way of self-discipline. It's a way to be more thoughtful. It's a way to make a concious effort to be more kind & soft-spoken and less angry & irritable. It's a way to focus more on prayer & reading the Quran. It's a way to give back to my community. Finally, it's a way to spend precious time with my family & friends.
The more time goes by since my conversion, the more I realize just how blessed I am to have been raised by a hippie that made this rule the number one rule. "Amber, only one rule matters & that's the golden rule. Treat others the way you wanna be treated." So while I sit thinking about the fact that I am a sensitive Muslim American New Mexican woman obsessed with mexican food & cats that can socially understand Arabic and Spanish-I thank Allah(God) that I was raised by a man who made accepting others his number one priority. "I have more faults than most-if not all, who am I to judge anyone?" His attitude has cultivated in me this open-minded curiosity that has allowed me to see things I don't think I would have had I stayed on a possible narrow-minded path.
Does my conversion mean that in my heart I believe all other religions/walks of life are unacceptable and that you will "go to hell" if you do not believe what I believe? Absolutely not! I believe what I believe for myself and for Allah. I do not believe it is my place or my right to say that my beliefs are better than any others-what kind of ego might I have if I were to think this way?
Does my conversion mean that I am now a "religious" person? No, I honestly do not think so. Considering the fact that I have changed my appearance and lifestyle completely since my conversion, it almost seems silly that I do not consider myself religious. But the word religion tends to have a negative connotation in my mind. I think of someone attempting to "shove" their beliefs down your throat, denouncing any other faith and possibly getting too wrapped up in the rules of their faith.
I would gladly share my beliefs and my growing knowledge of my new faith to anyone asking-but what I will NEVER do is make another person feel inferior because they do not believe the same way I do. To do this would be to hinder myself from learning from another walk of life, another faith, another heart, another human who ultimately has the same needs/desires of my own.
Ramadan Kareem (Happy Ramadan) to all of my Muslim friends/family. & Happy Summer/Month of July to all others :D