June Practice: Ramadan and Fasting of the Heart

Ramadan Lanterns Image

“The observance of Ramadan puts you in a mindset where you think about relationships with others, life, blessings, generosity; it settles you into appreciation,” notes our colleague and Fetzer program officer Mohammed Mohammed.

Through your experience of hunger and thirst, you value things that we often take for granted.

In preparation, during the month leading up to Ramadan (Sha’aban), Mohammed says he and many others fast, which is also a common practice during the month following Ramadan (Shawwal—the winding down).

“It’s a month of ‘inner development’ as we say at Fetzer,” says Mohammed. “You feed your soul during Ramadan.”

Writing about the act of fasting in “The spirit, rituals, and politics of Ramadan,” Mike Ghouse, president of The Foundation for Pluralism explains that “Consciousness of behavior and vigilance over action are the most profound dimensions of fasting:

the fasting of the heart focuses on the attachment to the divine.

That is when Ramadan really becomes a source of peace and solace... True fasting is self-purification; and from this, a rich inner life that brings about values such as justice, generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and empathy—values that are indispensable for the success of the community.”

As Muslims around the world begin the observance of Ramadan this month, it’s a great opportunity, whatever your religion or spiritual practice, to consider and engage in what helps you (re)discover the sacred, and what opens your heart to others. What practices, rituals, observances help you open to something greater, to fellow beings, and to how we’re inextricably connected?

Read Mike Ghouse's full essay here.