With the dawning of the month long fasting of food and drink during daylight hours – the Islamic month of Ramada – a routine, commonly heard query is: “Niyetli misinz” or, by translation, “Are you intending (to keep the fast)?”
This is a quick culturally specific means to know if normal Turkish hospitality – the offering of tea, coffee, cold drinks – should or should not be offered.
Now, as a non-Muslim, I am not attempting to maintain the demanding and difficult fast.
During the month of Ramadan, it would be fair to say that generally speaking, many people are tired from lack of sleep – the time to eat and drink are the dark hours, after the sun has set and before it rises in the morning. Added to this are the normal demands of the working day compounded by the heat and intensity of the sun. All combined together, this often makes for a miserable, difficult, trying day.
But, this year I’ve been struck by this question. In years past, no doubt, I’ve been asked this question, but this year I’ve noticed it more and an answer, which I have not expressed to anyone, has been stirring in my heart.
“Niyetli misiniz?” – “Are you ‘intending’ today?”
My unspoken response:
“Why, yes, I am intending to be honest and fair in my dealings with everyone I meet today.”
“Indeed, I am intending to be morally upright, not indulging my old nature and all its rampant passions and desires.”
“Yes, I am intending to be forgiving to those who may be contrary, awkward, miserable, simply spoiling for an argument or profoundly selfish or demanding.”
“Today I am intending to be loving to all I encounter; to those who are lovely, beautiful, pleasant, kind; and also to all the other people who are having a bad day, who are liberally sharing their difficulties with all they encounter; and the people that society in general has rejected; and the ill, and those with emotional problems, family problems, mental health problems; the foul mouthed, and the lusting, passion obsessed individual.”
“I am intending to be gracious to all I meet, encounter or have any interaction with today. Being gracious, means doing good in situations and for individuals who, often, do not, even remotely, deserve it. This is an expression of both the mercy and love of God being enacted by the proactive saying and doing of positive things for those who, from a purely human perspective, from a purely ‘natural’ point of view deserve to be ‘taught a lesson’ or ‘rejected’ or ‘shunned’ or ‘put out of the community’ or ‘locked up’ – because by their actions, their attitudes, their works, their words they have earned and deserve such a response. Yes, today, I am intending to be gracious to all, especially the so-called undeserving.”
“This day I’m intending to be patient with everyone I encounter – regardless to how they maybe behaving, nor however demanding or profoundly, exceptionally, impatient they may be.”
“As I encounter the vagaries of life in this twenty-four hour period, I am intending to live in peace: the world around me can be falling apart; there may be horrors or terrors being perpetrated on the innocent; there may be turmoil and upheaval in the financial markets causing stress, worry and abject fear; events in my life may be flying wildly out of any kind of control; nevertheless, it is my intention, I am intending to live in peace despite all that may be unfurling around me.”
I guess, I am finding the question to be a good question that deserves to be seriously entertained and considered. It is asked with regard to the demands of the fasting month – with a view to not causing a stumbling block or offence for those who are ‘intending’.
But, I am finding it a good question to contemplate and consider.
Of a truth, those around me, if they do not actively ‘intend’ to keep the fast, well, in the heat of the day, in the demands of work they will break the fast…
By the same token, if I head out into my day without identifying that which I am (actively) intending to do, then I will simply react and respond to the events of the day and with very mixed results.
It remains a good question and I think, deserving of a serious answer:
“What I am intending for this day?”