Confessions of a Ramadan Rookie

Rollo Romig in The New Yorker:

RamadanThe reason I haven’t been eating lunch is that I’m fasting for Ramadan, which is what you’re supposed to do when you’re a Muslim, which I became nearly four years ago, not long before I was married. It’s true that I likely never would have converted if my wife wasn’t Muslim, but that doesn’t mean that my conversion was merely symbolic. I wanted to join her life and her family, and since being Muslim is so central to who they are, that meant joining Islam. Over the previous decade, my own, vaguely Irish-American family had gradually drifted from being very Catholic to not being Catholic at all, so I had nothing to turn away from. I was open to wherever love took me.

Technically, becoming a Muslim takes about as long as ordering a Swiss-cheese sandwich. All that’s required is to recite the brief Islamic creed—there is no god but God, and Muhammad is His prophet—with genuine intention. But adopting a new religion doesn’t happen in a moment. I figured I’d start by focussing on practice. You’ve heard people describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. For me, it’s the opposite: I’ve never felt even a twinge of the supernatural, but I like many of the rituals and traditions of religions. In Islam, there’s lots to do—scripture to memorize, prayers to perform, charity to disburse, a pilgrimage to take—and, during Ramadan especially, lots not to do. I would begin by quite literally going through the motions, and in going through them find out what they meant to me.

More here.