Ramadan started this week and the next month is a very special one in the Islamic calendar. For Muslim families everywhere it is a time for reflection. It is a time when we fast throughout the month from sun rise to sun set. That is no mean feat especially in Summer months!
The physical discipline and detox involved is very much linked to a focus on spirituality and emotional connectedness to others, especially those who have less. So the idea is that less really is more - more inner strength, more empathy and more inner peace and satisfaction. This is of course the opposite of what advertisers encourage when they seek to create ever more 'need' for material things so that our greed - whether for food, or the latest fad is constantly fed. By creating a sense of dissatisfaction we want more but are still often left with a sense of unease and emptiness.
Of course as humans we have to battle with our own limitations in matching our ideals with our practice. But during the month of Ramadan we try raise ourselves up to be more like the people we really want to be, freed from greed and selfishness, more conscious of our Creator and the world around us. And it works. Ramadan is marked by incredible generosity within the Muslim community, both spiritually and financially. And there is a wonderful celebration to mark the completion of the month - with the Christmas like atmosphere of anticipation, present giving, family gatherings etc - oh and lots of food!