Sharing the Fast Reflections

May 28, 2019

For generations, a number of Indigenous communities have fasted from sunrise to sunset as part of long standing spiritual practice. Muslim communities fast in a similar way from sunrise to sunset, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

The Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies hosted the event "Sharing the Fast" in which Indigenous and Muslim community members shared and reflected on what the practice of fasting means to them, before sharing a meal after sunset.

Shagufta Pasta, a Muslim writer and experiential educator, shared her following reflections about the evening:

"On May 24th, I attended the CCMS “Sharing the Fast” event at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, and it was one of the most moving and special nights I’ve ever been a part of. I’m so grateful to the SFU Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies for organizing this event, the Friendship Centre for welcoming and hosting us, the volunteers who helped and Tim and Curtis and Stewart from the Friendship Centre for an incredible, emotion-full, tears-full, friend-full night. The reason we had such incredible stories that night was because one speaker shared with us, “I said yes to being a part of this night because my brother asked me, and I love him and when you love you don’t ask questions”, and I’m still thinking about the lessons of this story of what it means to act out of love and relationship and community and not obligation.

For me, one of the most powerful parts of the night was seeing our circle expand as people arrived through the evening, and witnessing that by making space for others, there was enough space for everyone. I loved how speakers for the evening shared their own connection to fasting, and how as we shared food together we had an opportunity to share our own reflections on fasting and food and community, and what it meant for us personally to be at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre that night.

Although it didn’t feel like the right space to take copious notes, here are some of my take-aways from the stories I heard that night:

  1. Fasting is a reminder that food is to be revered.
  2. Fasting is about being on a good road, a good path. Fasting is about developing a relationship with the Divine.
  3. There are times in your life that you just want to be on your knees and feel that you need to surrender. 
  4. We fast with intention. We fast with purpose.
  5. When you fast, you quiet down your body and you gain strength, you gain power because you are choosing to fast. When you fast you can have different reactions to your fast, you can get angry, you can get impatient, you can feel indifferent, and how we respond strengthens us.
  6. Spaces like the Friendship Centre, it’s important that we have young people here, babies here, older people here. We all need to be here together.
  7. We honour one another when we listen with intention, without distraction or devices.
  8. There is wisdom in the protocols of how we eat, in allowing elders to eat before us. When we privilege others before ourselves, we end up with enough to eat ourselves."  

Shagufta Pasta

(t): @shaguftapasta