I write this during Ramadan, the Islamic month of spiritual fasting, a practice I have followed since my early teenage years. For many of my friends, it’s a practice outside of their understanding and a source of confusion for those who know me more casually through my work. “I didn’t know you were religious”, they tell me, often with a tone of skepticism and perhaps caution. I get it, there is a lot of baggage with the idea of religiosity. To be religious is to potentially believe in dozens of totally irrational things; to adhere to beliefs handed down through generations with blind faith, to maybe even trust without questioning the veracity of these beliefs regardless of contemporary knowledge and insight. In the media, we typically see religious individuals are capable of incomprehensible acts of irrationality from bombing abortion clinics, to sacrificing animals, and flying airplanes into buildings — all in the name of their faith.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m not a regular concert goer. It’s partly because I’ve come to understand and enjoy the concert experience from the stage rather than the audience, and also that I’ve become so particular about my listening experiences I don’t want to be trapped at a concert that I’m not enjoying. But when I do make it out to a concert, it ofte feels like a religious experience. The concert hall is my sacred space, music is my sacred text, and the audience around me are my fellow congregants. It’s an involved, sometimes exhausting, and deeply meaningful ordeal, and in the last few weeks of being ordered to stay-at-home, I’ve come to miss it a great deal.