What Ramadan Teaches Us

There are plenty of theories floating about, regarding how fasting in the month of Ramadan is such a rewarding endeavor. Some claim that it teaches us self-control; some say it reminds us of the bounties that have been bestowed upon us by helping us understand how the poor and the needy feel; some even claim that it’s an excellent way to lose weight.

Paradoxically, Ramadan has become a month of gluttony.

How can I say that? Just yesterday, I went to a KFC outlet to indulge in their famous all-you-can-eat iftar deal. What I saw, was not an image of self-control, but the farthest thing from it. The sound of azaan transformed the restaurant into a war-zone. It was sheer pandemonium. The norm is for the waiter to bring food to the table, but the customers kept getting up from their seats and snatching pieces of chicken directly from the waiter’s basket. The average amount of food eaten by each customer in the restaurant was probably enough to feed a family of four.

I looked at the tables around me…at people who had left half the chicken on their plates uneaten, yet clamoring for more to be brought to them. A teenager seated at my neighboring table managed to devour half a Zinger burger in one bite, making me turn green. I bet most of them had eaten heavily at Sehri as well.

I didn’t exactly eat sparingly myself. By the next half hour, I could feel my belt tightening around my waist…my diaphragm fighting hard to push down upon the abdomen so my lungs could have room for expansion during breathing. You may have noticed that being an Atheist allows me to reap all the bounties of the special all-you-can-eat Ramadan deals without having to shoulder any of the responsibilities. On my way back to my car, I wondered if it’d be prudent to put my name down for a prophylactic coronary bypass surgery. One can’t expect to eat that much chicken and walk away with arteries as patent as ever.

I learned something important on that gastronomically redundant evening. Whatever the good Lord intended to teach his minions through this holy month of fasting, hasn’t been working out very well for Him.

    • Ashok
    • August 18th, 2010

    Haha… that’s gluttony alrite! Having lived in the middle east, I can probably attest to having observed a similar pattern there too.

    • Sara Q
    • August 26th, 2010

    I couldn’t agree more. This is an affliction with us, this obssession with rituals at the expense of, you know, the actual bloody point of said rituals. I’ve not actually met anyone who’s occupied with pondering the meaning of faith during this time. Nope. Most minds are wholly fixated on the menu. The bursting-at-the-seams ‘deals’ being pushed with excited hysteria by various restaurants bear testament to this sad fact. I guess when normal impulses and needs are supressed/ ignored/ condemned as ‘sinful’, food is the only outlet you have!

    The same people who eye you with suspicion and barely veiled hatred, mouths compressed behind pious beards as you saunter past them with a cup of coffee in your hand during the roza, are the ones muttering about trivialities like, ‘you’re wearing nail polish! Tumhari namaaz nahin qabool ho gi!’ Yup. Because God has so much time on his hands, he’s got plenty to waste quivering with indignation over my painted toenails.

    I’ve been hovering between outright atheism and agnosticism for years now. It isn’t bitterness either. I don’t think it’d be humanly possible for me to experience further disillusionment. But now when I look around, when I see people puffed up with that insufferable self righteousness, passing judgment on the rest, I can only laugh.

    As for religion, well… to me it’s a mix of craving some type of eternal meaning to this nasty, brutish life of ours (I do count, because I’ll exist forever in heaven!) and pure fear (what will happen to me? there has to be someone out there!).

    Anyway, sorry for the mini-rant.

      • loneliberalpk
      • August 27th, 2010

      Lol. Actually, you’re spot on, Sara.

  1. God, if he existed, would probably bang his head on the wall every metaphysical moment for the way his so-called plans have gone awry.

    And I agree with Sara up there. Even before turning atheist I was disgusted by the Pettiness of religion and religious leaders, over tiny things like nail polish and visible hair and sleeveless and what not. As if after years of evolution and progressiveness in thought we’re still being held back by what a bunch of chauvinists think is appropriate for the female physique.

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