The scholar and poet al-Rumi says, "There is an
unseen sweetness in the stomach's emptiness." He compares people to reed pens,
wooden instruments that could not write without being hollowed out. "Be empty,"
he says, "and write secrets."
comes from the Arabic root ramada,
which means severe heat, as in the harsh heat of the sun scorching the earth.
Through the properties of heat do metals become purified, relieved of impurities
that weaken the metal and actually change its identity.
Ramadan is a time of purification, a
reawakening of our original identity (the one that really counts) - a way to
filter out all that makes us captive to the things of this world which always
change and never keep lasting meaning, such as ethnic background, geographic
origin, wealth, prestige, or Klingon-like national pride.
What Ramadan reminds us of is our ultimate
identity as creatures of a mighty and merciful God, who made us and eventually
wants us "back".
Rumi says more: There
is an unseen sweetness in the stomach's emptiness. We are lutes. When the
soundbox is filled, no music can come forth. When the brain and the belly burn
from fasting, every moment a new song rises out of the fire. The mists clear,
and a new vitality makes you spring up the steps before you. Be empty and cry as
a reed instrument. Be empty and write secrets with a reed pen. When satiated by
food and drink, an unsightly metal statue is seated where your spirit should be.
When fasting, good habits gather like helpful friends. Fasting is Solomon's
ring. Don't give in to illusion and lose your power. But even when will and
control have been lost, they will return when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, or pennants flying in the breeze.
Ibrahim N. Abusharif is a Chicago-area
writer and editor of Starlatch Press. He also maintains a blog at http://fromclay.blogspot.com
He can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com