From the first sighting of one moon to the first sighting of the next, people are called to eat and drink nothing from sunrise to sunset.
The fast is broken at sunset with a meal called iftar. People spend a lot of time buying and preparing special, rich delicacies each day.
Ramadan intensifies people’s religious fervor. The religious acts done count more towards salvation. It is all a complicated mix of sacrifice and indulgence. Fasting during the day; feasting at night. Frenzied shopping for new clothes. Giving alms to the beggars. Eager anticipation, excitement, dread…what if God does not accept what I am able to do? Millions of people trying to earn their salvation. For most, there is little hope, as they know they can’t meet the requirements. They don’t know that it is a free gift.
My heart aches when I see the struggle and the uncertainty. If only they could understand that salvation is not something that has to be earned. I fast out of a desire to draw closer to a loving, compassionate God.
Ramadan, to millions of people, is about pleasing a distant god. For most, especially the poor, it is impossible to follow all the rules. What hope do they have?