As a man with no religion, I have been exploring various faiths with a view to some day doing the unexpected.
I have lived my life quite nicely without the need to worship. Things have been coasting along nicely and it is a wonder to me why some people spend so much time worshipping and praying when there is so little time to have all the fun in the world.
Because of the way I live my life, I have a cavalier attitude to religion.
I am beyond being frightened by stories of all the bad things that will befall me if I don’t worship. I need a lot more convincing. The other thing is I don’t accept that there could be somebody somewhere capable of watching over each and every person on earth.
That is just not possible.
So, I go through life fully knowing no one up there is watching me. If there is any watching to be done, then all that attention should be given to people who deserve it.
I am just an unremarkable individual who doesn’t believe God or any of his chaps can waste time on me.
The thing about people who worship is that they compete for the attention of this guy God.
They all want him to pay them special attention and recognise them as special from all the billions of people inhabiting the planet. I think this is too much to expect of God.
Besides, monitoring the behaviour of each and every person, he surely has other things to do. I mean, he probably sometimes wants to take time out for a holiday with his mates.
So, I say there is no way God can watch over us all. As a result, safely out of his radar, some of us are having lots of fun. Being out of the radar does not mean I don’t pause to reflect on the various religions.
I cannot find an answer to why, if religious people all believe in the same God, they are unable to worship in one place and live happily ever after.
Anyway, that is an issue for another day. There are so many things about these religions that confuse us and make it difficult to make a decision whether to align with one and not the other.
In my casual study of all religions, I have realised a lot of things about religion are no big deal.
A lot of stuff is just public relations.
It is nothing to be excited about.
Anyway, I suppose everyone has a right to worship and follow their faith.
Which is why I am fascinated by Ramadan.
All my Muslim friends are commemorating what appears to be an important aspect of their religion.
From what I learn, during Ramadan, certain things are not allowed. There is a whole list of them.
Apparently, the idea behind Ramadan is to forego earthly pleasures in order to reaffirm your faith. From what I have seen, despite depriving themselves of so many things, Muslims seem happy and I am sure would have little problem doing it more frequently.
They tell us that after Ramadan they glow and bask in happiness until the next commemoration. During this period they fast, pray, read the holy book and other activities that will make them better Muslims.
Apparently during Ramadan no intimacy between couples is allowed. That in itself is no big deal because many people go through life without sex and not for any religious reasons.
It could be that they are too ugly to find someone willing to hit the sack with them. But they still survive and live life. So to me a lack of intimacy is nothing to write home about, given the many people who are deprived.
Look, many people can’t go through life without alcohol. Yet all Muslims do not care for a drink and yet they lead a happy life.
What I mean is that if we really put our minds to it, all edicts placed on us by any religion are still possible for people who don’t have faith.
I am sure if Islam allowed just a few glasses of wine after Friday prayers, it would gain even more adherents. But the fact that they don’t need alcohol to grow the religion shows that when people really believe in something, then they don’t need much inducement.
In other words, and I repeat, religion is really no big deal and all ceremonies associated with religion are, well, just ceremonies that don’t mean much.
Still on Ramadan, I learn that its centerpiece is fasting and adherents don’t eat all day long.
Hey, is that anything special? Give me a break!
I have lots of relatives back in the village who are on Ramadan every single month of the year. These are very poor people who are lucky if they can have a single meal every day. They survive by eating at funerals and weddings. When there are no bereavements or weddings they eat on average once a day, if they are lucky.
On most days they don’t eat because there is nothing to eat.
With Ramadan, consumption of food is not allowed during day hours. That is fair enough. After all that is what the religion says should be observed.
But when the fasting is over in the evening, a feast is laid out and adherents can eat as much as they like.
Unlike my relatives in the village who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, adherents of Islam who practise Ramadan can starve during the day in the knowledge that dusk will bring a sumptuous feast.
So what am I saying?
Well, my point is that all religions are looking for new adherents. I think Islam can draw more converts were it to allow a few glasses of wine.
But if that is impossible, if Islam wants to grow all they have to do is go to the nearest village. There they will find people already converted.
They will find people who, when told about Ramadan, will simply laugh and tell the imam that they have no problem with Ramadan because they have been observing it their entire lives.
In my village, the majority of people are on Ramadan every day. They go the whole day without eating most days.
It’s no big deal!