I'm sort of in my post iftar trance as I write. Fasting has been an interesting, and surpisingly easy experience. I have very much enjoyed the spirit of Ramazan, with friends and families gathering regularly for good meals and quality time together every day. The fast itself certainly enhances self contemplation. And my body seems to be appreciating the cleansing process. Its not just the external fast though that i find fascinating, but rather the internal one.
There is an unsaid concientiousness about the words you speak. There is a calmness to ones temperament. There is a general attempt at slowing things down and paying attention to the people around you. Ramazan is a time for inner peace - at least for those who choose to embrace that.
Westerners are, as usual, only exposed to the 'sixty bodies being found in Baghdad' or the car bombs that go off daily between Shiites and Sunni's. That is the image of the Muslim world. Violent people, extreme views, radical interpretations, suicidal tendencies. It's not all that black and white, in fact, not at all.
I saw a clip of "Jesus Camp" -- a startling depiction of the new generation of Christian soldiers in America. Its not at all far off of the impressions we are IV fed of the extreme elements in the Muslim world. Onward Christian soldiers is a horribly scary concept...as scary as desperate Muslims thinking they will buy a ticket to dzenet if they die in the name of Islam. So a lot of us have really gone off the deep end...all because we haven't yet explored ways to understand each other and our obvious fears - and henceforth so-called 'hatred.'
What I see here though, in this time of contemplation and fasting...is a desperate need to be understood, respected, and walk as equals amongst the white west. If the west can't offer at least that to the east - then the moral high ground the west seems to think it holds is no more solid than the lads wreaking havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we will all continue to have a long and painful road ahead of us. And from my shoes...none of us really want that. Do we?