Monday, January 7, 2013

Ramadan Experiences, Day Four & Five

Saturday (day four) was the first day I didn't have a killer headache by the time the sun went down.  Hallelujah!  Maybe my body is adjusting to this fasting deal.  I have to admit, it's easier to focus on the purpose of fasting and to be un-cranky when my head isn't pounding.  That's one of the struggles I've always had with the standard 24-hour LDS fast - horrible headaches that make it difficult to move, much less feel all spiritual and at peace.  Or maybe that's supposed to be part of the growth aspect of fasting, finding a way to push through the discomfort and "get it" when you feel least capable of it.  C'mon, those of you who actually enjoy fasting: help me out here!

This weekend my two fasting worlds collided as this Sunday is the regular monthly fast for LDS congregations.  I decided to keep both fasts, so no eating from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, and Sunday dinner was after sunset.  The 24-hour fast wasn't as difficult as usual, maybe because I'd been prepping for it all week with my sun-up-to-sun-down fasts, maybe because of the new schedule. (Our ward switched back to the morning schedule, so we started at 9:00 and were done at 12:00.  I can't express how much I prefer that to the 1:00-4:00 time slot we suffer through every other year.)  Lots of time for family togetherness, resting, scripture reading in the afternoon.

Speaking of, I haven't really shared anything from my reading of the Quran yet.  Most of the first few sections or suras are really long, in the neighborhood of 200 verses, and so far, at least, there aren't stories or narrative through-lines in any of them, so it's sometimes hard to keep track of the topic.  It seems to jump around a little.  But that could also just be my lack of familiarity on this initial exposure.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how much the Quran mentions not only Jesus, but Mary, too:
3:45-48 "The angels said: "O' Mary, God brings you good tidings with a word from Him; his name is Jesus, son of Mary, a man of status in this life and the life to come and one of those closest to God.  He talks to people from the crib and preaches to them as a middle aged man, and is one of the righteous."  She said: "My Lord, how would I have a child and I have never been touched by a human?" He said: God creates whatever He wishes; whatever He wants done, all He needs to do is say: Be, and it is. God will teach him the Scripture, wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel."

There is a frequent two-fold emphasis on belief and good works:
2:62 "The believers, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaens who believe in God and the Last Day and do good works will have their reward with their Lord and they need not be afraid or sad."

And this bit of wisdom jumped out at me.  The context is specifically talking about spouses, but I think it can be applied widely to how we treat others:
4:19 "Treat them kindly, since even if you dislike them, God may put a lot of good in things you may dislike."

I also like how often the Quran explicitly states God's attributes: God is Forgiving, Compassionate, Merciful, Knowledgeable, Wise, Capable.  At first glance, each of them seem fairly obvious, but that last one in particular seems like a no-brainer.  I mean, of course, God is Capable!  He's all-powerful and can do whatever He wants to.  But then I got to pondering on how often I might mentally set limits on God based on my own mortal, fallible, finite understanding, particularly limits on some of his other qualities like being Forgiving, Compassionate, Merciful.  It certainly gives me something to strive for.

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