Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ramadan and Fasting

The issue of fasting is one that is a difficult one. This has been a personal struggle for me and one that is still stretching me. Take this with a grain of salt. I don't mean to upset anyone but my intention is to clearly define how I am feeling and my personal thoughts on this matter not to condemn or belittle but those who know me would know I would never do that.

For me I choose not to fast during Ramadan. Why do I choose not to? To be the answer is very simple. I am not Muslim. I believe if I choose to fast I will be sending very confusing messages to our friends here in Morocco. See part of my job is to show them a person who lives in America who has their own beliefs and their own religion (or in some cases no religion). I have a lot of people in my site when I say that I am not a Muslim the first thing they say is, "Why thats bad you will go to hell". Then I try to explain that "Well I am Christian so I have my religion and you have yours". This has never worked. Usually I get a response of, "Come on you are so close just become Muslim because it is beautiful". And rightful so Islam is beautiful but it's not who I am.

So here I am in a Muslim holiday where most people are fasting but me. I feel like if I start fasting people will get excited. Why? I assume they will get excited because they think I have an interest in Islam (which again I do have an interest but not to convert). I want the people of Morocco to understand that beliefs work both ways. Just because I am foreign it doesn't mean that I have to conform to a certain belief system. I have heard people say well you are respecting Moroccans if you fast. I am not so sure this is true. Most people here take their beliefs very seriously, and to start practicing parts of their religion out of respect it seems like I would be starting another, "Well being Muslim is better than being (insert religion here)". I am tired of these arguments/discussions. Also, what happens after Ramadan? Will your community expect you to continue to practice their religion? Who knows but it is too complicated to me. Refraining from eating in front of people who are fasting is enough. This shows that you respect them for doing it, that you care about the individual and that you are using common sense by not making others salivate.

I guess for me I just got to the point to where I am tired of trying to act like I am somebody that I am not. I just want to be who I really am and not this culturally shifting person whose beliefs and ideals change because I live in a different location. It's so easy to do because you want to be liked so badly but to me in the end it's not worth it. I want to be who I am. An American Christian living in Morocco trying to understand different culture and ideals without compromising my own. To each his own I guess but fasting is not for me. It's too confusing.

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