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Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.

https://liverpool.academia.edu/ShereenHamedShaw

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Happy Ramadan Everyone!

Ramadan is one of the best months to spend in a Muslim country. The charm of the Eastern warmth, the fumes and mixed smells of cooking near Iftar time, people's chilled out attitude towards life, the traditional songs and the variety of TV programmes, but best of all, the colorful lanterns lightening the streets at night. This is something I terribly miss here in UK. Every year Ramadan comes and I only know about it from friends and family. I feel nothing here, no celebrations, no traditions and certainly no gathering around the table for Iftar. The family feel during Ramadan is absent in UK. Even Christmas day in the West does not come any close to such a holy month in terms of preparation or grandeur.

Ramadan this year has started on 8th July and is predicted to last till August 7th, 2013. After it comes the Eid, which is another celebration I miss a lot, mostly because of the lack of family members I have here in UK. You'd think when you marry and leave your parents house that life has begun for you and is filled with so much adventures. Realistically, life is exactly the same but with one difference which is that your're seriously on your own. Many times I think to myself "it sucks to be an adult" I wish I knew that ages ago I could have taken advantage of being a youngster and lived these days fully rather than trying to grow up so fast and worrying about what the future holds.
The problems of Ramadan in UK is that Iftar is at 10 pm which is extremely unhealthy if like me you are a full time mum looking after a crazy active toddler, trying to write up a thesis, juggling a few chores and running a household single handed. Now what would someone religious say to me about not fasting? Well, the first attempt to convince me that I should would be that in me suffering there is redemption for my sins and that my reward after the temporal life will be very worthwhile. The problem with this reasoning is that it already assumes that I have committed sins in the temporal life that I so wish to redeem and that my sense of guilt or shame from God will drive me to give in to such reasoning and agree to put my body and mind under this suffering for a month. The second attempt to convince me is that I would be tempted to fast for the sake of the reward in the non temporal world- i.e. appealing to my greed. The two attempts from my view are inadequate in terms of making me fast since the hours and the suffering will have terrible consequences on myself, body and mind, and on my child who will not be able to cope at 18 months only without me fully functioning to take care of his daily needs. What I find annoying though is when someone sleeps during the day till past 4 or 5pm only to have a few hours left to go till Iftar and stays up to watch TV after Iftar at 10 pm till 3am! Surely God would see this as a waste of one's life and productive valuable time. People who do so, should not preach to people like me whose day starts at 6 am daily with the cry of a child to attend to.

The moral of the story, therefore, there are things in Islam that are desirable but not doing them will not make you a sinner. Islam should be seen as a religion that does not take away your right to live life fully, it is not a religion that dictates to you to do this and that blindly. Islam tells us to think, to see, to feel, to learn, to know and to act. Yes, it is desirable of me to be fasting during the month of Ramadan, but not fasting for very important reasons such as health, time and the welfare of a child who is entirely dependent on me, does not make me a sinner.
With this quote: "Life is like a game of cards, the hand you are dealt with is determinism the way you play it is free will", I leave you...Have a wonderful month of Ramadan.

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