When I was living in Europe and Canada, Ramadan was one of the biggest mysteries of Islam. How do they do it…? How do they starve themselves from sunrise to sunset, for a whole month?! There are so many misconceptions about Ramadan in Europe? Some think it’s a total fast, many think you only eat dinner & not breakfast. Most, if not all, know only of the food aspect and have no idea whatsoever that Ramadan includes much more than being deprived of food.
I had my first encounter with Ramadan when I was in Sumatra in September 2007. I decided to fast a few days, to blend in the family who was hosting me. They were pretty much worried about me, and kept on asking me “Are you sure you don’t want to break up the fast? Aren’t you thirsty?”
Yes, fasting includes both food AND drink. That was my most “what the….???” moment about it. No drinking, in a 35°C environment? Isn’t it dangerous?
I managed pretty well those fasting days, as we took it really easy & slept a lot :)
Last year, I decided to take it a bit more seriously and fast one week. A sort of personal challenge at doing it on my own, without in-house support, and to discover more what it feels like. It was a bit tough at the beginning and then, after the 4th day, it all started to fall in place. It was not that difficult, wasn’t it?
I had to stop after one week though. Some planned activities, mixed with a non-supportive environment, and I decided to go back to eat & drink normally. But I felt like I could have kept on going. After all, I was already settled in a routine, even though my energy was visibly slightly lower (what a surprise!).
The question was: was it going to feel as effortless to keep on going for a full month? Don’t you get a total energy drain after, say, the second week? I felt I had still more to know.
So here we are. Ramadan is starting on August 1st, and I’m going to fast for the whole month, like all my Muslim friends will. Having them around will definitely help, but I have to admit I am a bit anxious. I am planning different experiments during that month, discovering the limits of what I can do without pushing myself too much either.
I’ll be giving some daily or weekly updates about it. If you’re a non-Muslim out there, why not giving it a try? Just one or two days? :)
It’s by living other people’s reality that we can start understanding each other.