This is one of those strange moments for the new atheist: going through Ramadan with a newly opened mind. For the first time ever, I’m entirely guilt-free while I eat during the day!
This was one of the most confusing and painful parts of Islam. I was given many reasons for its existence: From sympathizing with the poor to cleansing, to being closer to God. But growing up, I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t feeling closer to God. I was just plain hungry. Hunger with an extra benefit of stinky breath.
Oh yes, all you non Muslims. When you don’t eat or drink water all day, you get nasty breath. Uber-nasty.
I couldn’t concentrate in school. I had nasty heart burn all morning, because we’d wake up at an ungodly hour to gorge! I always thought it was insane to consume virtually the same amount of calories, just at odd hours. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose? I guess that wasn’t the purpose anyway…
Anyway…what was really bothering me was this: Why would God want you to punish yourselves in his honor? Does he get some sort of sick pleasure watching children as young as 7 or 8 try to starve themselves all day? What the fuck? I’ll give you another example: There are many women in my life and some of them are extremely old with various medical conditions. They all feel compelled to fast. It drives me insane!
I don’t go over there preaching, trying to convert them! I simply get emotional and tell them: “God doesn’t want you to punish yourselves like this. You’re in no condition to fast.”
But the Islamic mind is not thinking rationally. I know what these ladies are thinking:
“I know I don’t have to fast, but if I do, perhaps I’ll get extra-credit!”
That’s right, folks. Extra credit. All religious people believe in it. It stems from the eye-for-an-eye philosophy. Catholics are instructed to say stuff repeatedly and count beads…and that’ll make up for spilling their seed last week! Or for having dirty thoughts about their neighbor’s wife!
Many Muslims cling to insane traditions similar to the Catholics: repeat this phrase a gazillion times and you’ll get what you’re looking for. What?!? It’s true. My mom believes it…all of her friends believe it. And you can find it anywhere on the internet. The magic of prayer! With step-by-step instructions.
Back from that tangent…
I’m super glad to be eating. I can’t believe that people can be so well disciplined. To not eat or drink (or smoke, or screw) all day takes will power. Now if only Muslims could apply that same will power to making their own countries and villages and societies better.
It’s too bad that wasn’t one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Perhaps there should’ve been a sixth:
Pillar number 6: Please don’t kill people. Never. I don’t like it. I’m God telling you that I don’t want you to kill people. It’s never justified. Don’t do it. This is the 6th pillar of your religion. By God. It’s me. I wrote this on a very large mountain in every language…on every continent. In fact, if you look at your palms right now, it’s written there too…in your language. You know how I did that? I’m God!!! I can do anything. That’s right. This is the end of my 6th Pillar
I’m done ranting – now it’s time to eat!!!