Just loved blogger "the linoleum surfer"'s latest post on cultural GCC fasting. Nothing to do with the ISLAMIC holiday at all but a totally enjoyable read nonetheless. Thank you TLS.
Ramadaan in our homes? For the Muslim OPNOs, Ramadaan means setting the alarm for 3 am and getting up to make a breakfast. Some eat simple Khaleeji/GCC breakfasts: milk, dates, some fruit, maybe a cheese on some bread, and others go all out with pancakes and eggs and toast and all that. OPNOs recommend fresh fruit, a small peice of meat, some dates, and lotsa, lotsa water.
By around 4 am all eating stops. So if one got up late, well your screwed. No water or food for you until after sunset, and fasting becomes a hell of alot harder.
At this time we pray. If we are men, we go to the Mosque for this. As none of the OPNOs are dudes, we don't. Islam is kind to women. It lets us get away with more. Usually we pray in the house while any male relatives go to the Mosque (we are allowed to go to, but choose not to) and then crawl back into bed and sleep until it is time to get up. The guys will sleep if they have time left when they come home. But they get less time, ha ha ha. I know, I am mean, but this always amuses me.
If we work, we got to the office. We do our jobs. We don't take sick leaves or what nots unless we are really, really ill. Lying breaks your fast same as eating does.
After work, we go home. Or to friends houses, depending who is making dinner to break the fast.
If we don't work, we might try to bake deserts or any cooking item that takes longer, or run errands like going to the store. We might work on hemming Eid dresses, cleaning, ect, things hard to do at night with guests, and if we have time, we try to listen to Islamic lectures on the television, or read Islamic books, and study the Quran. We do not drive like dangerous idiots on the road and we try to remind the dangerous idiots we are friends with to be careful if we are riding with them. Hurting another person or their property is a sin in Islam. Committing sins while fasting kind of makes the fast POINTLESSSSSSSSSSSS.
If we have kids, we might try to make the time special for them and not make it all a chore about not eating and drinking. For the littlest ones we've made colouring pages for them, and the older ones cut cute paper decorations, or do fun games like quizzes and contest to learn about Islamic history or memorize some Qu'ran. I love when my neices like to read Qu'ran for me, or sing me Islamic songs which they make cute dances to.
We pray all the prayers, and try to do some extra ones when we have the time to. That means our head touches the prayer mat AT LEAST 3 times in the morning, 4 times in around 12 pm, 4 times around 3:30, before anything to do with the fast. If anyone IS tired, they will have a short nap only after the 3:30 prayer. 1 really, really really amazing OPNO [not the one compiling this alas], Allah bless her, spends her spare time going around collecting food for poorer families, and getting cash donations to buy their kids new Eid dresses and toys, and maybe help these families out with repairs to their home or vehicle ect. She also volunteers to cook some of those amazing iftars served at the Mosques for the workers whose salaries might not afford them a great healthy meal after fasting all day. I only wish the rest of us had her energy, and heart, may God make us all better.
Come around 7 o clock pm: At the time to break the fast we lay out some food. When the call to prayer is called most OPNOs break their fast with a glass of water and some dates and say a little prayer to ask God to accept their fast. They tend not to gorge themselves just yet as they still have to do all the prayer motions and no one wants to throw up a dozen samboosas, 20 peices of basboosa, and have rice hanging out their noses when they hit the prayer mat. I sneak at least one or 2 samboosas, as I am starving by this time. After eating, we go the washroom, and rinse our mouths. Then we go to pray (almost always in the home unless we are breaking our fast at the Mosque). Then our heads hit the prayer mat another 3 times (at least). Then we go to eat.
We eat probably too much, traditional Arabic foods being the most common fare, but OPNOs adding whatever they were craving during the day into the mix. Usually we avoid overeating though, because we still have to pray 1 more time.
During this time there is the most visiting and socialising. We avoid saying anything bad about anybody else or showing off.
At around 8 o clock pm, most of the OPNOs drive to the Mosque to offer their prayers, and then they stay for a reading of the Quran, called Taraweeah prayers. Those who do not go to the Tarweeah prayers (where the goal is to read the whole Qu'ran during the month), go home, and try to study the Qu'ran or read from it, or memorize it. After taraweeah time, most OPNOs eat some more, then offer their last prayer of the night (called Witr) and then sleep, well before 11 pm. Because they know they are going to want to be up at 3 am to make sure they get their snack and hydration on before the next fast on, the following morning.
That is the OPNO Ramadaan, a bit different than the cultural one in TLS' post.