It’s that time of year again – yes it’s Ramadan! It’s the holiest month of the year in which the Holy Qur’an was revealed and when Muslims across the globe commit to fasting from sunrise to sunset in remembrance of the poor and needy and in worship to Allah Almighty. Yes, this sacred month has arrived and with that comes the hunger pangs, nights at the mosque, dedicated reading of the Qur’an and of course – the little quirks! The questions, the jokes, yep we’ve heard them all before. Ramadan wouldn’t be the same without them!
Here’s our ten quirks which sum up the blessed month!
We can almost guarantee that unless your non-Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues are familiar with your faith and fasting, you’ve been asked this question at least once. Yep, we may fast for many hours at a time but alhamdulillah, we enjoy a good meal at the end of each day! We can’t even begin to imagine what state we’d be in if we stopped eating and drinking completely – in fact, even thinking about it makes daily fasting sound a bit of a breeze. Astaghfirullah!
“Fancy a date?”, “I’ve got a date for every night throughout Ramadan”, “My dates are all halal!” and on and on. Yes – just as the Sunnah of breaking your fast with dates is a great custom we enjoy throughout Ramadan, so too are the jokes about dates. Would it even be Ramadan if there wasn’t a date joke flying around? We think no! Ramadan: “Keeping it halal!”
Well, well, well – we never knew we were so Mediterranean, did we? During Ramadan, a siesta is a must! From adapting the medical room at work or popping home for a nap, we make that afternoon nap a must. Don’t ask us to go without it or we may just struggle to function or keep our eyes open. Well, what else is our lunch break going to be used for (other than prayer of course!)? Yep, bring on the siesta for that mini energy boost!
Allah loves to test us and Ramadan is definitely a test in itself! If the struggle to remain calm and collected when you’ve not had your lunch wasn’t difficult enough, we’ve got to fight those nafs (urges, desires and bouts of irritability)! There’s no point in fasting if we’re rude, unpleasant and unbearable towards others. So on with the fight against “hanger”!
Is it Ramadan yet? Is it Eid? Has the moon been sighted? No that’s Saudi, I follow X, Y Z. Yes, never before does the appearance of the moon become so exciting, yet also so contentious. From disagreements on which country/location to follow (home or abroad) and the need to explain to your non-Muslim boss that you’d like time off work but aren’t really sure what day(s) you need off, it’s all about the moon!
For anyone unable to fast (menstruating and breastfeeding women, diabetics, our non-Muslim colleagues etc.), there’s always that niggling feeling of guilt and well-meaning questions: should I eat in the office? Can I eat here? From congregations of women gathering to eat in the prayer room to the office exodus at lunch-time, eating becomes the elephant in the room quietly trying to remain inconspicuous. Hey, guys, it’s fine! As long as you’re not salivating with a gigantic beef burger before our eyes, licking your lips and telling us how mouth-wateringly scrumptious it is, then go for it!
A bit like #1, the other BIG question of the month and the draw-dropping answer is around water. Yep, it’s no food or drink during daylight hours for the full month. Yes, that’s no water, no tea, no coffee, no juice, no fizzy drinks; nothing except toothpaste, or lip balm can touch our lips – definitely not anything edible or refreshing!
With suhur, fajr prayers, iftar, late night maghreb, ishah and taraweeh prayers* – not to mention the urge to go to the toilet whilst you’re in bed after drinking all that water – sleep becomes somewhat of a distant memory during Ramadan. So, when we’re at work blurry-eyed and not feeling our freshest, it’s not often the lack of food or drink, it’s the fact that we’re lacking a full night’s sleep due to our new eating, drinking and additional worship habits (as well as all the social iftars!) that makes us a little slower than usual. Unless you’re one of those insane people who can get by on four hours sleep each night, we’re definitely not going to be our usual spritely selves!
So you’ve got your alarm clock, your watch, your phone – in fact, so many ways of telling the time but when it comes to suhur and iftar, which one can you really trust?! And so that feeling of panic sets in. Shall I wait longer to break my fast? How much longer? Has the time passed? Yes, you’re hungry, you’re starving….ahh! We’ve all been there. With so much technology nowadays and no public athan (call to prayer) as we’re living in a non-Muslim country, you’d think we’d have worked out a way to know what time it is. But we’re never quite sure which device to trust…
“You must lose so much weight!” gasps our non-Muslim neighbour, friend, colleague etc. Well… You’d think that eating significantly less food than usual for a whole month would mean we’d get rid of quite a few extra kilos wouldn’t you? But no… many of us even put on weight! How, you may ask? Well it’s those darn samosas, cakes, baklawa and all. Don’t blame us – we were invited to the iftar. It’s rude to turn down food, don’t you know!
Jokes aside, Ramadan is a special time for us all. As the holiest period of the year, we’re able to give thanks to Allah Almighty for all we’ve been blessed with and remember those in need across the globe. As we break our fast or tuck into our suhur, let’s remember the millions of people across the world who are struggling to survive due to poverty, famine, disasters, climate change and conflict. Let’s be their support.
Allah (SWT) tells us: “Whosoever saves a life, saves the whole of mankind.” (Qur’an 5: 32)
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