The chand, or moon, was sighted Monday night and Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims, officially began on Tuesday, August 2nd for us. Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and the USA are a day ahead of us so their Ramadan began on the 1st. Ramadan is a month of purity; a special time of worship where Muslims around the world take a break from worldly pleasures and focus their energy on thanking Allah for His blessings. The purpose of Ramadan is to experience what the poor of our society endure every day, hunger and thirst. Even then, Ramadan does not do justice because the poor go days without eating or drinking clean water. During Ramadan, Muslims get only a glimpse of what life without food and water is like.
We eat a hearty breakfast called Sehri before the crack of dawn. After the morning prayer, Fajr, some read the Holy Quran while others go back to bed. During the next 15 or so hours, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink anything. They may distract their minds from food by reciting the Quran, listening to naats, or praying. The point is to have good thoughts and be positive. This helps keep the shatan, evil, out of the house and away from you. As soon as the sun goes down, the azan, call to prayer, for the Maghrib prayer (fourth of the five daily required prayers) is the official marker of opening the fast. This is called Iftar.
Muslims open their fast with a date, just as Prophet Muhammad used to. It is also traditional to drink Roo Afza, coolaid-like red and sweet drink. Iftaari also includes pakoras with chutney. After a quick iftaari, devout Muslims complete the Maghrib prayer (approximately at 7:20 p.m.) before eating the full course dinner meal.
I joke with my father that I've been fasting for the past two months since I don't have much of an appetite anyway when I come to Pakistan mainly due to the heat. People die to lose weight, but me, I wish I were healthier. Fasting isn't helping--but then again, that's the point of Ramadan, isn't it?
As we speak, I am editing my students' articles. I am so stressed out! This is worse than the Orient Thursday nights. For the past two days, I've been working from home. I have been waking up at 9 a.m. every day and working until iftar, then again from 8 p.m. until sehri. Tomorrow all day is LAYOUT day. Wish me luck!!