If he had to identify a difference between his way of living Ramadan and that of his parents, Muhammad would mention food. At the time of breaking the fast, after sunset and the prayer of Maghrebhis parents prepare a table garnished with many traditional dishes – chorba (1) or bricks – symbol of a moment of great conviviality and sharing experienced with the family during this “blessed” month in Islam.
But Mohammed, he attaches less importance to the abundance of the meal. The 28-year-old would like to be satisfied with the minimum to be able to fast the next day, and prefers to avoid eating too much fat or too much sugar. “It’s a time when the body can cleanse itself, and it’s a shame to spoil it with a bad diet”, believes this sportsman. For him, Ramadan is a kind of spiritual training, which is lived both in his body and in his soul. He has set himself a goal: to read the entire Koran in Arabic. Every year it feels like it’s coming out of this time “purified”, to be “closer to God and his Koran”.
During Ramadan, which begins on Thursday 23 March, the new generations of Muslims express a refocusing on the spiritual dimension of fasting, the concern for a healthier and more sober diet, as well as an optimal organizational effort to achieve his spiritual goals. This subtle evolution reflects the social rise of young generations of Muslims whose aspirations mingle with those of the middle and upper classes, but above all – for some – the transition from a cultural Islam to a more spiritual and internalized Islam.
“A spiritual experience”
“We observe a kind of gentrification of part of the Muslim populations in France, linked to trajectories of social ascent, compared to the generation of newcomers who were mainly from the working classes”, explains Sarah Aïter, doctoral student in political sociology and specialist in Islam. “The next generation, which has more access to education and higher education, adopts the consumption patterns of the majority society”, she describes. This concern for a healthy diet during Ramadan is thus reflected the rest of the year by the development of a demand for ethical halal or even organic products.
The relationship to religion, too, is changing. “For the previous generation, Islam represents a cultural heritage that has not necessarily been re-examined personally and intimately”, develops Sarah Aïter. Among the youngest, some still live their religion in an identity mode, or focus on the strict observance of rites. “But part of the new generation has a much stronger concern for spirituality. During Ramadan, it is not just about fasting and having a nice table, but about having a spiritual experience. »
This situation is found in Emira, a 17-year-old high school student in Strasbourg. Her mother, Tunisian, fasts during the day, cooks for two hours every afternoon to prepare iftar (2), and wakes her daughters before sunrise to say their prayers, but she herself does not pray. . Her daughter, Emira, tries to say all her prayers on time and goes to the mosque in the evening after the prayer of ichaato perform the tarawihsupererogatory night prayers, in other words not obligatory. “For new generations of Muslims, I don’t just inherit Islam, I choose it againsays Sarah Aïter. There is a desire to give meaning to practices. »
“The month of self-control”
Ramadan is thus experienced as the month of change, that of spiritual examination and conscience. “You have one month to change your habits”, often say imams in mosques, reports Sarah Aïter. Oussama, 23, a student in Strasbourg, is looking forward to that month. This is the moment when he turns the page of the previous year and makes good resolutions. “It’s a rebirth” he describes. “Our body gets rid of impurities, we try to do without the superfluous, to think only of God, of good deeds and to be attentive to others. It’s the month of self-control”continues the one who plans to disconnect his social networks and has set himself a program of reading the Koran.
In fact, the concern for organization is particularly present in the preparations for this very demanding time. Osama will strive to reconcile prayers, reading the Koran, the lack of sleep due to night prayers, with his language license and his civic service. Mafory, 15, also got a “plan” of Ramadan, of those that flourish on the displays of Muslim bookstores, to check off all the prayers she makes and the progress of her spiritual readings. “There is an overlap of spiritual notions and personal development”comments Sarah Aïter, who notes the attention to “optimize your time” and to ” to fix objectives “.“It’s a bit like a challengeconcludes Osama. A month when God will test us. »
Ramadan, “month of blessing”
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. They then abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex. They also avoid practicing sins such as lying, slander and anger.
By fasting, the faithful must also experience the privations that the poor experience throughout the year. Finally, at the spiritual level, fasting should allow him to get closer to God. It is the fourth pillar of Islam.
The observance of Ramadan is considered a source of blessing in Islam: Muslim tradition says that during this period the gates of heaven are open.