Thursday, September 10, 2009

Personal Life – Fast, Pray, Love

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Personal Life – Fast, Pray, Love

Going foodless in Ramzan.

[Text by Sadia Dehlvi; pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

During Ramzan, the month when Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad, we Muslims are required to keep a fast. That is, we have to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk.

As a child, in my old house in Sardar Patel Marg, I was not expected to fast and there was no bar on feasting. The kitchen was stocked with pheniyan, khajla, khajoor and other Ramzan specific delicacies for sehri, the pre-dawn meal, and for iftaar, the evening meal after breaking the fast. But as I grew older, the thought of fasting for a whole month brought a kind of dread to the heart. After I moved to my apartment in Nizamuddin East, my feelings changed. I became a disciple on the Sufi path.

Now I find happiness in fasting even though I recently had a root canal treatment. My only meal during the day is at 4am - the Earl Grey chai, two boiled eggs and a buttered-toast. In a few minutes, the siren from the mosque starts blowing and the fasting starts. Then you could not swallow even a drop of water.

Mystics in various religions have believed fasting to be an effective way of controlling the lower instincts. Sufi Masters stress that hunger brings about illumination of the soul. Rumi wrote, “Hunger is God’s food for which he quickens the bodies of the upright.” Sahl Tustari said, “Hunger is God’s secret on the earth.”

In this month I hardly leave the house except when I have to see my mother in Nizamuddin West, or when I have to go to the Nizamuddin dargah. The rest of the day I stay at home – reading, sleeping or listening to Quranic verses that I have downloaded on my Mac.

After a few days of fasting, the physical system slows down and the ‘I’ separates from the body. Hunger is felt not as ‘ I am hungry’ but as ‘My body is hungry’. This helps me recognise that the intellect, body and heart are different components, readying me for a spiritual journey. I also feel the pain of those who go without food and learn to appreciate whatever is on my plate.

Once the evening siren goes off, signaling the fast’s end, I help myself with apple slices and that much needed cup of Earl Grey. Later, my son Arman leads me in performing the namaaz in our living room where we are also joined by our cook and driver.

[The author has written the book Sufism: The Heart of Islam]

Ms Dehlvi with mother, son, and a friend

Personal Life – Fast, Pray, Love

Ms Dehlvi at Nizamuddin dargah

Personal Life – Fast, Pray, Love

Evening prayers at Ms Delvi's living room

Personal Life – Fast, Pray, Love


Rajiv said...

tshenhappy Ramadaan

DeeBuddy said...

Nice read! Sadia... The hunger of the body can only be realised when the soul respects the reason of the fast.. I fasted for the first time in the 25 summers of my life a few days back on Janamashtami... to relieve the mind from the thought of food is a great challenge...the truth is that we are and we can be more powerful with our minds than we believe by our body to be...and salvation lies within..

Tariq Khan said...

I guess Ms.Dehlvi doesn't have a full time job and can sleep and read and that is way too easy as a fast! Wonder if she would've written so liberally if she were working all day? I find her work dreadful and she is very pretentious. Wonder if she ever were to understand the homeless and the hungry on the streets where "roza" is most of the year! Wonder what brand of chai should these homeless command at 4:00 p.m? Earl Grey? Tsh Tsh. Get real Sadia!
Soofi do you fast?? Or just like attending the qawalis at nizamuddin? Wonder if any of you who claim to be so "sufi" really understand sufism. Bah!

Tariq Khan

Anonymous said...

Ramadan Kareem to Ms. Dehlvi and her family.

Anonymous said...

i do not agreew ith Ramadan Fasting:

1) I see people gaining weight (rather than losing it)
2) I have witnessed people are literally being forced into it by peer pressure
3) Ramadan fasting can not be good on medical grounds
4) Does not seem to teach followers of Islam the good values of control, respect for other faiths

i do not expect this to be published

Mohsin Ibrahim said...

Have I missed a point to this post?
Sadia feels pain for the less fortunate, well, what is she doing about the poor?
These type of people are a pity to society. Looking pious when reality is something else.


Mohsin Ibrahim

Anonymous said...

ramadaan is all about purifyin your soul. It has nuthing to do with any controvercy created by human.Its is just the way of reaching to god with purity in your body and mind and any body can do this,no what matter that person follows!!!!!!!