Ramadan: Sincere Reflections

I’m so happy to share today’s guest blog by Matthew Stevens with you! I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew when he was a student at UNC Chapel Hill.  Please enjoy his comments on sincerity.

According to Charles Feltman, author of The Thin Book of Trust, sincerity is one of the four fundamental distinctions of trust. Sincerity is explained as, meaning what you say, saying what you mean, and acting accordingly. The month of Ramadan requires sincerity in order to fully reap its benefits and rewards. Many people see the month of Ramadan as a month of hardships and struggles and while it may outwardly appear as such, it is also a month of hidden opportunity.

As a convert, this is my fourth Ramadan however, due to health concerns I have yet to fast through an entire month of Ramadan. As each year approaches I intend to complete the fast, but health reasons have always thwarted me from pushing forward. I hope that this year will be the first complete Ramadan for me Insha’Allah (God Willing.)

This Ramadan also presents a new personal challenge to my fasting schedule. I recently began my professional career as a college-graduate. As excited as I am to begin my new career I am also wary about fasting with my work schedule.  I want to be prepared to learn the most and to be the best analyst in my new field, but what I have yet to realize is that fasting may help me achieve these personal goals.

With a name like Matthew many people never realize that I am in fact a Muslim. Being accepted into the larger Muslim community as a convert is possible however, this ability to be a chameleon comes with its caveats. Since my external appearance is devoid of traditionally Muslim or Islamic characteristics, it requires me to be entirely certain in my personal identity as a Muslim. I must be able to both internally and externally support my decisions and understand that my actions are constantly being measured by my sincerity.

In order to build trust with anyone I believe that you must be sincere with yourself. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must assess the sincerity that we have with our faith. This sincerity is constantly being tested by fasting while continuing careers and facing the daily challenges of life. By developing sincerity, we are hoping to establish trust not only with ourselves and our families, but also with God and our community. I hope to begin this next week of work by embodying this element of sincerity in order to gain the trust of my new colleagues and clients.

The month of Ramadan should be understood as a chance to share our sincerity with ourselves and others. We should all strive to build and develop trust with those around us, not only during the month of Ramadan but also during every moment of the year.

About the Author:  Matthew Stevens graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spring of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Arabic. During his senior year at UNC he served as the UNC Muslim Students Association (MSA) president. He has traveled to the Middle East to study Arabic and learn about the Middle Eastern culture. He is currently working for Huron Consulting Group as a healthcare analyst.

Here is the book Matthew references above: