Ladies and gentlemen, first my apologizes for keeping you waiting. Today I’m going to answer a question others and occasionally I ask; how do they do it?
How do Muslims go without food or drink from around 4 a.m. until about 6:40 p.m. every day for a month?
The answer is not as simple as I wish it could be. We can start, of course, with the fact that our bodies can handle it. Biologically, it’s possible.
If I were any good at biology, I’d explain further how this works. But our bodies, at least mine and those of most people I know, love the fasting.
Yes it is hard, mostly at first, but then you get used to it. Most families train their children early on to fast at least a few hours. They aren’t obliged to, but they tend to want to do it.
My little sister fasted all month last year and she was nine, and my brother is fasting with us this year and he is eight. He does complain occasionally, but he always seems to do so a few minutes before sundown, which my mother uses as an opportunity to teach him patience.
See, it’s not that painstaking. Think of it in a “if there’s a will there’s a way,” way. We want to please God in this month and it is obligatory for those capable of fasting to fast.
In the Arab world, most people step up to their obligation and responsibility and when one does so it seems that any hardship fades. Almost no one wakes up too lazy to fast or just not in the mood.
Consider also the epic heat we are having these days, when the average temperature here in Alexandria, Egypt is 30 degrees Celsius (that’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit) and it’s only that cool because it’s a coastal city.
I cannot say for others how they cope with the thirst or hunger, but I know for myself that when I feel that rumble in my tummy, I think about the people who feel the same but won’t have food to eat in a few hours.
My mother always tells how happy God is with us when we put an effort to withstand something for his sake and that makes me and my sister even happier to fast.
There are people out there plowing the sides of the Nile in the scorching heat and yes, they too are fasting. Sometimes I think about how they do it. And when my brain is sore from finding an answer, I reach just one conclusion- they just do it. It is almost as if God gives us this magical super-ability to take it and really around the fifth day it’s routine and nothing outstanding.
Ladies and gentlemen, do not forget that we rampage the dinner table at sunset and ravenously attack dessert for sugar later on. Of course Ramadan is supposed to be a humbling month of moderation but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that a lot of the people here consider Ramadan a month of eating, not fasting.
It’s kind of like trading the giving spirit of Christmas for the gift obsessive spirit of those who don’t understand Christmas.
Also we always have a meal right before dawn which keeps us going throughout the day. In Egypt, many, many people like to eat a meal of beans and bread. They say it gives them enough energy to work for the day. We also make sure we drink a lot of liquids.
Egyptians who feel water is tasteless drink karakadeh (hibiscus flower drink) or kharroub (carob fruit drink) and just normal orange or mango juice.
Personally, I need my cup of coffee. Yes, sounds like I’m a coffeeholic but seriously, I can’t go without it. That’s worse than scorching heat or thirst.
I hope this made at least some sense and answered the question of how we handle being hungry or thirsty during fasting Ramadan.
Finally, I want to say that Youth Journalism International really is the greatest youth journalism in the world. I love the fact this is a platform to connect with the rest of the world.
Please feel free to leave comments or questions about Ramadan here. If you want to write directly to me, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll make sure I get it.