It’s Ramadan, and right now most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims will be marking it in some form.
Last night even the PM, Malcolm Turnbull, hosted an Iftar dinner at Kirribilli House to mark the holy month. He’s the first PM to do so.
With Bachar Houli & Waleed Aly at a multi-faith dinner to mark ‘Iftar’ – the breaking of the fast – during Ramadan. pic.twitter.com/CHVJyxA3qt
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) June 16, 2016
Among the guests were Waleed Aly and Susan Carland. And we had all the questions. What is Ramadan, exactly? What’s the point of it? Can you really not eat ANYTHING? And how can we make sure we don’t accidentally offend any Muslim friends or colleagues or even strangers during this time?
I asked the hijabulous academic Susan Carland everything.
Listen to the podcast here:
What’s the theory behind the fasting?
During Ramadan, many Muslims fast during daylight hours. The idea, Susan says, is that the fasting and the praying is meant to teach you discipline and focus, especially now that we live in a time where everything is about instant gratification.
“If I’m hungry, I have something to eat, if I have a headache, I have a tablet. There is no sense of delayed gratification. There’s no real inner sense of discipline, certainly not for me, I’m terribly undisciplined. So Ramadan is about teaching us discipline over the most basic desires, food, drink and sex. So if you can master that, controlling those most basic of human desires for 30 days, between daylight hours, then how much easier would it be for us to master the basic desires of the negative aspects of our personality.”
It’s like ‘high altitude training for the soul’.
You know how athletes go train in high-altitude so went they come back down to normal altitude, everything seems easier? Ever strapped ankle weights on to work out, and then when you take them off you feel like you can FLY? That’s Ramadan.
Susan says the hunger and thirst is not the point of fasting, it’s actually the vehicle, the means of transportation to be a better person, to elevate yourself and your soul.
“If I can be a nice person when I’m fasting, I have no excuse not to be nice when I’m not fasting. ”