January 6, 2012 by Reader's Connection
Kazim Ali is a poet and essayist who teaches at Oberlin College in Ohio. Raised as a Muslim, he says that he´s inconsistent with some of his religious practices, but loves to fast during the month-long holy season of Ramadan.
Fasting for Ramadan brings together journals from two different years. Ramadan won’t begin until July 20th, this year, and I’m not a Muslim, and I was eating prepackaged foods (Activia yogurt slathered over Costco puff pastries) while I read the book; but Ali is a runner and a yogi, and he made his way to me, or through me, by looking so intently at himself and what it means for him to live and breathe (and eat) in this universe.
Who am I then, uncoupled from the basic foundational human desire: To feed oneself, the root of any desire. Am I still human? Or is a part of me reaching toward the arena that isn’t?
And if that’s the case, then the fact that the fast is a daily routine, ending each twilight, does seem like spiritual ADD. Reach for what’s beyond, come back, reach for what’s beyond, come back.
The first of the two journals originated as a posts in a blog, the second one as notebook entries from several years earlier. Brought together, they’re an extended prose poem, and Ali has thrown in a few recipes for meals to be eaten before sunrise or after sunset. Whether or not I ever sample the almond-pear oatmeal, I’m grateful for he has done.