Ramadan Kareem is similar to Christmas for Muslims. Minus the Santa Clause, celebrating Jesus’s birth, and giving gifts. Okay, maybe it’s nothing like Christmas, but it relates to Christmas because it is a time when people spend time with their families, give to the poor, and try to be a better person. The purpose is to fast for 30 days as an expression of their devotion to Allah. They fast from sun up to sun down. So depending on where you are in the world hours that you are fasting can be longer or shorter.
During fasting hours in Kuwait, you cannot be seen eating or drinking publicly. A person could get arrested if they do not follow the rules whether they are Muslim or not. When I first became aware of this I thought it was reasonable. I figured I would just eat at home or in secret at school. Last year, I had a rude awakening.
Remember how I wrote about the special service like UberEats that delivers food to your doorstep? This service is not available during fasting hours because all the restaurants are closed. All the restaurants are closed. Grocery stores and bakala’s are the only food stores open. This didn’t catch me by surprise because I knew that I couldn’t order. Actually experiencing it was different. Imagine being at work and forgetting your lunch. On top of that, you can’t run to the restaurant that sells Falafel sandwiches for 300 fils because it is closed. Then, on top of that, you can’t order coffee to keep you going because that place is closed too. By the time you get home, you are extremely hungry. There are some restaurants open, but the places you like are closed. This was my experience last year.
Now, this is not to knock the holiday because I think it is great. The whole point I am trying to make is I didn’t know how hard it actually would be. This year I am a little more prepared than last year. I still feel like I am fasting coffee because by the time I get home I do not want caffeine.
Restaurants are closed during the day and opened at night with extended hours. Last year, I went to the Avenues Mall with some friends after 10pm and we didn’t leave until midnight. Usually, the mall closes at 11pm, during Ramadan it closes at 2am. Saying the mall was pack is an understatement. It was so crowded I found myself literally walking into people. Besides being at the mall, they eat at Iftar, the first meal when the sun goes down and Suhoor is eaten before dawn. Most people are spending lots of time with their families.
I have fasted in previous years of my life, but not in this way. The fasting that I have done was 21 days of basically no chew diet. I could have juice, smoothies, and broth for sustains, but not anything else. I fasted because I wanted to show my devotion to God and cleanse my mind, body, and soul so I can hear His voice clearly. As far as fasting during Ramadan, I have not participated. What I have taken part in is Iftar with my friends.