From Huffington Post
My apartment is located in between three of the area’s most frequented bars. At 3 a.m. on a Sunday, I can hear the remainder of Saturday night’s revelers as they pass my window; singing, chatting and shouting under the street lights. I’ve never been much of a party girl, yet I can relate more easily to the 3 a.m. scene outside my window than the one I find myself facing inside. It is 3 a.m. and I’m alone at my kitchen table, eating porridge in the dark. My mini-Ramadan began with a lonely breakfast accompanied by the drunken songs of strangers on the street below.
As Ramadan drew to a close this weekend, many Muslims around the world reflected on the month that passed. I am not a Muslim and won’t be actively celebrating Eid this week. Yet I have been reflecting on my own experiences this month. I too have learned a great deal.
I had never really fasted before. I grew up as a Roman Catholic and as a child I’d unwilling give-up crisps or biscuits as a token gesture during Lent. Today I self-identify as a Liberal Quaker and there is no specified imperative compelling me to fast as part of my community’s religious experience. As an interfaith activist I have encountered friends from a number of different faiths quietly, humbly abstaining from food and drink. Watching my friends fasting, often whilst they are working and during the long summer days, I have felt a sense of wonder and to be honest, confusion. I found it hard to imagine that going without food could bring me closer to God. Surely it would only make me distracted, grumpy and hungry. This Ramadan, I decided that an experience of fasting was long-overdue. Maybe it was possible for me, a food-loving, non-Muslim, to learn something by taking part in this important Islamic month. But thirty days? You must be joking. I was determined to try at least three.