Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ramadan slows us down ... to think about "why this competition?"

I suppose it can look contradictory for this atheist to post about religion but without critiquing it.  But, I have never been one of those militant atheists making a fanatical religion out of atheism.  As long as the religious do not impose their practices on me, I seek nothing but peaceful coexistence with them.  And enjoy food and laughter and conversations with them.

Furthermore, I am not that different from most atheists in that we reach the conclusion not with ignorance about religions, particularly the religion with which we were raised.  Even through my agnostic teenage years, I was curious about the Hindu faith and its philosophy.  Which is also why I am so familiar with dukrijnkarane.  And then curiosity made me find out at least a tiny bit about a few other religions.  Thus, it did not surprise me one bit when a Pew survey, a few years ago, found that atheists often know more about religions than the believers themselves.

This being Ramadan time, I have been thinking more about Islam.  It is a tragedy that the hysterical suspicions about followers of that religion prevents us from even appreciating the arts and literature that grew out of that faith. Thus, Rumi and his mystical works are among the many that get sidelined.  Of course, according to Islamists, Rumi and other sufis were not "real" Muslims.  All the more the reason the world will be better off without those crazy Islamists who make it difficult for all of us!

The way I--an atheist--interpret the Ramadan is this: it is an intentional pause to our everyday lives.  A forced interruption that then makes us think, for at least a few minutes every day, about what we want to do with the little time we have on this planet.  Especially with Ramadan coinciding with the hot summer days in the northern hemisphere, it is a wonderful time to stop doing whatever it is that we do day in and day out and ponder some serious questions instead.

As we do, I bet we will immediately realize that Rumi was profound when he distilled the wisdom to this:
Inside the Great Mystery that is,
we don't really own anything.
What is this competition we feel then,
before we go, one at a time, through the same gate?
So, hey, whether or not we are Muslims is immaterial to inquiring within about what we want to do for the time that remains for us on this pale blue dot in a vast universe.  And, maybe read a little bit of Rumi, too, this Ramadan season.

Caption at the source:
Women hold prayers on the first night of Ramadan at the Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday, July 9

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

In reality, Ramadan, for most Muslims and in most part of the world is a licence to party away the whole night. I have heard stories that people actually gain weight during Ramadan, despite keeping the fast (or perhaps because of it). I was once in Alexandria during the peak of Ramadan and the town was buzzing in a way I have rarely seen anywhere in the world - at 3.00 AM that is.

Sriram Khé said...

If so, then yet again I have evidence that atheists like me are often way more spiritual and religious than the believers themselves ;)

BTW, what were YOU doing up at 3 AM? ..... muahahaha

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