Six years ago, I could not imagine the day my son would go into grade 1, let along imagine my son asking me if he can fast. Last week, he said to me: "I want to fast with you and dad. Please, please, please!" I was silent at first, not knowing how to tell him that there is no way I am letting him fast 17 hours.
Traditionally, Muslims are not allowed to eat throughout the day while they fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Although individuals with illnesses are usually exempt from fasting, I try my best to do what I can. It's an interesting struggle to keep the balance between fulfilling my religious responsibilities and keeping my health in check. The criticism is endless, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! My doctors have advised me against fasting numerous times, but I think it should be a personal choice.
Ramadan is scheduled to commence later this week and I am not looking forward to it. The Islamic calendar is lunar based, so Ramadan shifts by approximately 10 days every year. Fasting during the winter months is easy with dawn being so late and sunset being so early. Fasting during the summer months is brutal -- dawn is currently at 3:45 a.m. and sunset is at 9 p.m.
Congratulations to me on having finally arrived at that wonderful place wherein it doesn't matter to me if people don't find me bright, interesting, engaging, articulate or attractive. I am finally -- at 52 -- happy with who I am. I have finally decided that I have things to say that are worth taking note of.
If a religion preaches discrimination against another? Would not supporting freedom of religion, in this case, be then a force for discrimination? While many people may not recognize this -- or wish to recognize this -- this was also a real concern when the concept of freedom of religion first arose in force. Is a religious practice inherently discriminatory or is this possible discrimination simply a side-result of the action, essentially undertaken for other reasons? The fact is that rights of individuals often invariably collide.
I don't talk about religion in our home. Or, at least, I try not to. This is how it works for everything. From bedtimes to toys to language to diet, you can set up the rules how you like them in your house, but once your kids get out in the real world, the rule book is out the window. But when your kids and my kids go to school, those different rules mix.
The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the Quebec government is infringing on the religious freedom of Loyola High School to require it to teach the Christianity portion of this course from a neutral, rather than a Christian, perspective. The Supreme Court of Canada has effectively held that the Charter's fundamental freedom of religion provision trumps the Charter's equality rights.
Despite spending most of my life as an atheist, I have come to realize that spirituality is part of the human condition. So is the ability to think for oneself, to follow one's own moral compass and to challenge stereotypes that others have created for their own purposes. If you agree, you might have a spark of Vesta's ancient fire in you after all.
When we, as atheists, say that Islam is the problem with the Middle East, we aren't saying that Muslims as people are the issue, we really are saying that the root of the crisis is the system of ancient, outmoded beliefs. Belief in Allah is not merely an identity marker, it is a belief that is acted upon, and criticizing this belief doesn't make one a racist.
The fact is that for such a 'religious' person, what they determine to be ethical comes from a system that may be totally independent from other systems. This can make dialogue effectively impossible for there is no point of connection. What these people accept as right or wrong is solely what the 'deity' in which they believe defines as right or wrong.
We need social reflection on the topic of religion to be able to separate superstition, fanaticism, and ignorance from legitimate expressions of religion. In learning about what true religion is, we can benefit from what it can contribute towards the progress of humanity and curb acts of ignorance and fundamentalism that are carried out in its name.
"How do I make my YouTube video/Facebook post/blog post/etc. go viral?" I was asked it twice last week alone. By now, one would think that people would realize that there's no magic formula. So in an effort to satisfy inquiring minds, and to finally bring closure to the topic, I have come up with the foolproof, two-step path to Virality.
Historically, prejudice of any kind could be freely expressed with few repercussions (emotional, legal, or otherwise) so long as there was a reasonable justification. Religion has often served as the justification, and has therefore facilitated an array of prejudice, from racism to sexism to homophobia. Over time, the use of religious beliefs to justify prejudice has tended to decline, but still persists -- especially when it comes to homosexuality.