In Fasting for Ramadan, Non-Muslim Student Finds Clarity and Connection

March 25, 2024

When Natasha White, nonreligious, and her MA in International Peacebuilding peers attended the event "A Taste of Ramadan" by The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, a spark of curiosity ignited in her. After approaching her Muslim friends for more information about fasting, she set off to fast for 30 days. "They thought I was only gonna fast, for like the first day. And then they were really surprised when they realized [oh, wow! She is going to fast for 30 days,]" Natasha said. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is observed by Muslims worldwide as a period of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community.

Muslims are gradually trained to fast around the age of seven. This is entirely new for Natasha, who hasn’t fasted for extended periods of time in the past. “I'd say it definitely is challenging. So it's really mind over matter. And you know, in the past, I've always said: mind over matter, spirit over mind.”

Two weeks into fasting, Natasha says she is experiencing mental clarity, a state she sought before Ramadan. She had noticed unhealthy eating patterns that she wanted to tackle. Now, she is aware of what triggers her cravings and has the determination to not act on them. Natasha values the support of her Muslim friends and Professor Aida Mansoor, who constantly checks in with her.

Natasha feels blessed that this process is helping her get closer to God. "Having that mental clarity really has helped me to be open to receiving more direction from God and to be more spiritually led." 

Wanting to learn more about the Islamic tradition, she visited a mosque and observed Friday prayers. She recognized that these congregational gatherings hold particular significance during Ramadan, as they offer an opportunity for increased spiritual connection and community engagement during this holy month.

"I find it very fascinating to have cohort members who are Muslim to introduce me to, show me the way, you know, and just support me as I'm learning about this without the expectation of conversion," Natasha said. 


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