Growing up as an Arab American was always rewarding, even when I felt conflicted between my two cultures. I will admit, I am not fully engaged in my Islamic religion, but I go all out when Ramadan, our holy month, comes once every year.
Muslims all over the world engage in Ramadan, which is a month of fasting. Once the sun comes up, you stop eating and drinking until the sun goes down. Then you gather around the dinner table and break your fast with loved ones, starting again the next day. This continues for 30 days, and a celebration at the mosque wraps it all up. This year, the month started July 8 and lasts until August 7.
But that is not even half of what Ramadan means to me.
For me, it is the time to remove my physical needs in order to enhance my spiritual needs. It may sound silly, but most of the time, basic necessities, such as food and drinks, are not given much thought. Remove that and it puts a whole new perspective on life.
I experience firsthand how people much less fortunate than me feel. This, in turn, helps me realize how good I have it and I turn to God and thank him. In other words, Ramadan helps me set my priorities straight and become more thankful of what is in front of me.
This holiday also brings you closer to the people you love. This is the one month my family and I eat together at the dinner table for 30 days straight; having a meal after a long day of fasting brings us together. We share the same difficulties and temptations of food for the day and that, in turn, helps us relate more to one another.
In a fast-paced world, I get to just stop and immerse myself in a life-changing experience at least one month of every year, and for that, I am thankful.