A series of posts reflecting on my first Ramadan. Here’s why I decided to do it.
While eating my pre-dawn breakfast this morning (which consisted of fried eggs and Malt-o-Meal), I groggily checked my email on my iPhone.
I had to rub my eyes a few times, because my inbox was flooded with comments from my blog!
It seems that, literally overnight, my blog started to pick up an incredible flow of visitors. Thanks to reposts by Facebook friends, retweets by Twitter followers, and my inclusion on the Huffington Post Ramadan Liveblog, this blog started to reach a new audience, mostly of Muslims.
And I am overwhelmed by the response.
Every single response has been an outpouring of support, encouragement, and advice on how to succeed in this fast. I’ve received practical tips – drink lots of water, try cucumbers in yogurt, drink more water, stay away from red meat when breaking the fast, drink more water – as well as spiritual wisdom – try to break fast in community, make sure to take on extra disciplines of charity, reading of the Quran, and remembrance of God.
As the day wore on, I continued to receive kind and loving comments on this blog, and people continued to visit. I honestly didn’t expect that I would get this kind of response. In fact, I have to admit that I worried that some of my Muslim brothers and sisters might view this as nothing more than a “stunt,” a kind of ridiculous, self-serving ploy to draw attention to myself.
True, I wanted to draw attention to myself, but not for my sake, but for the good of my Muslim friends. I have been honestly troubled by the way some of my fellow Americans view and treat Muslims, especially since 9/11. I wanted to do something to help begin to change the perceptions and overthrow the prejudices.
But I never expected that, so far, my greatest experience in Ramadan would have been one of profound and humble … grace. I have received nothing but grace-filled responses from readers.
For all of my Muslim readers, the word “grace” is extremely important in my faith tradition. Methodists talk about grace all the time, because we believe it is the primary characteristic of God. We understand grace to mean that we receive the love and mercy of God through no merit of our own, but simply because of God’s great compassion and tenderness towards us as His children.
I was particularly blessed by my Quran reading today, when I read this verse: “And Allah is Lord of extreme grace” Al-Baqara 2.105.
All of you have shown great grace to me today. I am extremely thankful and grateful. Your words have inspired me to continue to be faithful to this fast, and to continue to seek nothing but blessings and peace between us.