Today starts the first day of Ramadan. If you’re not a Muslim or not familiar with Ramadan, it is the holy month of spiritual reflection and devoutness. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is a month of obligatory daily fasting. Ramadan start dates move 10 days early every year. Daily fasts begin at dawn and end with sunset. For Muslims, fasting means not eating or drinking anything (including water) while the sun is up.
Eating, drinking and other no-no’s during Ramadan:
I don’t see why ice cream and hamburger which symbolizes food are separated and don’t know the medicines not allowed.
As a non-Muslim, I am not required to fast even if I’m living in a Muslim country and even if more than half of my work colleagues are fasting. Work timings are from 9am to 3 pm instead of the usual 8:30 am to 6pm (with an hour of lunch break from 1-2 pm). Thirty days during the month of Ramadan, we ONLY have six hours of work (hurrah), with no lunch break in between. We non-Muslims are free to eat or drink but have to do it discretely.
This is my 3rd Ramadan in Dubai.
During my first Ramadan in 2007, I didn’t really know what to expect. I found out food shops are closed until after sunset, how difficult it is to be out on an empty stomach and can actually buy something at Burger King (they’re open) but can’t eat in public. “Can’t” is an objective word here. There’s just something in the atmosphere that would prevent you from clawing that hot, cheesy burger. In 2008, we were in Japan for most of Ramadan and when I came back, I enjoyed work time that’s three hours short but had to find ways to sneak in eating my lunch. It is always a challenge. Food that can’t be seen doesn’t mean it can’t be smelled. Nose power is twice as effective during the fasting period. I got dagger looks when I put out my ham sandwich last year.
Now, I will be here for the full 30 days of Ramadan. I am drinking green tea freely, no one argues with that. I do sneak in little finger foods like small slices of rye bread or fruit, which I do normally, anyway. At 3pm, office work finishes and I head to the gym. I’ll be eating my proper lunch at around 4:30 pm or snack and have an early dinner at 6pm.
For me, Ramadan is a time to reconnect with my family and bond with my daughter by spending more time with her. When I usually go home at around 7pm everyday, I am home at 4:30 pm during Ramadan.
Ramadan Kareem to my Muslim friends all over the world.