Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Fast? A Letter to the Young AUCians.. Ramadan 2006

Why fast?

It's been too long… Exactly 25 years since I last drew or wrote something for the Caravan… You see, I'm one of those "ancient" AUC alumni…I graduated in June 1980 and I used to be the Caravan's cartoonist. I also wrote a few articles, especially satirical pieces… Actually one of them got me in trouble, but that's another story… Those were the good old days. We were young, fresh and adventurous. AUC was so much fun, probably as much fun as you guys find it now. And the strange thing is that throughout my undergraduate years we never had Ramadan during the school year. And if I remember correctly, in my freshman year, Ramadan was in August. The days were hot, humid and long… But we fasted. We didn't pray regularly at the time, actually we hardly prayed at all… But we fasted. We partied, went out and had fun… But we fasted. Not one of the girls was veiled at the time, or even considered it… But we fasted. Even our friends who drank alcohol made a point to abstain before Ramadan and they fasted. Even some of our Christian friends fasted with us, especially if we were all going out for iftar. What's my point? My point is this: I've noticed that nowadays, quite a number of the beautiful, young men and women on campus are not fasting. And to be honest, I'm a bit surprised. And before you say anything, let me tell you this: yes, I know it's none of my business, and yes this is personal freedom, and yes you're old enough, and no I'm not your mother, nor am I your aunt… Actually, I'm old enough to be both, but I choose to be your friend… Probably because I'm hoping (in vain) that some of those carefree feelings of days gone by might rub on me… But mostly because I do care…In any case, I'm not lecturing or preaching you I'm just sharing my thoughts with you. So… I did what a friend would do and asked: why aren't these beautiful people fasting? I mean, they all look so healthy, so I'm sure the reasons aren't medical? After all, you can't be all that sick if you're smoking like a chimney… Smoking will eventually make you sick…very sick, but that's yet another story... So why aren't they fasting, I ask. I get a very logical answer. Those beautiful, young, perfectly healthy people aren't fasting because they feel that since they aren't "good", practicing Muslims, it would be hypocritical of them to fast… Yeah right! What? Says who? This is exactly the same as saying that if you tell a lie and are therefore not "good", then it's OK to steal! Does this sound logical to you? It doesn't to me, and I'm a pretty logical person. You don't have to be a pious Muslim to fast. You don't even have to pray to fast. It would be great if you pray AND fast, but one doesn't predetermine the other. They're two separate issues. If you can't abide by some Islamic do's and don'ts, this doesn’t mean that you drop everything. It's the easy thing to do of course, but it's just not logical… And we're all a bunch of very logical people. You do whatever you can and know in your heart that God is Merciful and Forgiving, and hope for the best. And who's a "good" Muslim anyway? I know I'm not a good Muslim though I'm trying very hard to be one, and I'm not judging anyone here. I'm simply trying to make sense of this so called logic… So let's take this logic further. If you don't take notes in class, for whatever reason, does this mean that you won't photocopy your friend's notes? Sure you will. You're smart and you want to pass, right? Does this make you a hypocrite? Would you call yourself unethical? After all, you did take someone else's "hard work"… You can argue that you can't write fast enough in class, or you that can't understand if you write at the same time, whatever... Fine… Still, you did allow yourself to take someone else's work. Does this make you a hypocrite? Suppose you don't study as hard as you should, and your grades are suffering, but because you're such a sweetie pie the professor decides to give you one last chance to pull your act together. Do you want to tell me that you won't grab that chance and work really, really hard to squeeze through the course? Will you say: I didn't study from the beginning of the semester, so I won't study now because I don't want to be a hypocrite? I don't think so. And whoever came up with this "hypocrite" argument anyway? Let's take this to another extreme… Did you ever cheat on a test, even if it was just a peak to make sure that your answer was correct? Did you ever copy someone else's essay or paper and present it as your own? Maybe you did, maybe you didn't (I sure hope you didn't)… But if you ever did, then using the same logic, you would not be "good" and therefore it would be OK to sneak into the professor's office and steal the test questions! No?…Then there's something very wrong with this logic… Instead, wouldn't you inwardly wish that you didn't do these things in the first place and resolve to improve? Following rules is never easy, but if I break some rules this doesn't mean that I should break all the rules. Also, I might not quite understand the wisdom behind some rules, but I follow them and hope to understand that wisdom through the journey of life. Besides, why do we always find it "cool" to question God's rules and take everyone else's ipso facto? Why don't I hear you debating or even questioning the ridiculously exorbitant prices that you pay for those lovely designer clothes that you're wearing and instead succumb and pay up, no questions asked? When was the last time you said: "I'm not convinced that I should pay a zillion pounds for that Burberry bag or Bulgari watch!"? Food for thought? How about fasting instead? Please fast… it's healthy and spiritual, and will leave you elated and fulfilled. Take this from a friend who cares...

Letter to the Caravan - AUC Newspaper
By Loubna Olama
A Graduate AUC Student (A Very OLD Graduate Student…)

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