Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ramadan for dummies: How to survive without food until sunset

Going without food and water between sunrise and sunset for a whole month is really, really HARD. But it's for a good cause -- to promote compassion. This voluntary sacrifice gives us a chance to experience first-hand what others less fortunate than us must feel like after going without food involuntarily. After observing Ramadan for the last 22 days, I am now totally compassionate. I totally realize that those people are going through HELL. Sometimes Ramadan can be a grueling ordeal.

However, despite all the hardships it creates, the fast of Ramadan is well worth the effort. It is a journey of spiritual renewal. "Man does not live by bread alone." So of course you want to do it. But sometimes a little help is in order. So here are some helpful tips to make the holy month of Ramadan survivable:

1. Realize why you are doing this -- you are trying to make yourself a better person. This is a worthy goal, the most worthy goal in the world.

2. Eat lots of protein before sunrise. Unlike oatmeal, protein DOES stick to your ribs.

3. Get moral support. If you are the only Muslim within a 20-mile radius, it's harder to do Ramadan than if you can check in with a fellow Ramadan-doer every few hours or exchange those knowing looks with him or her when everyone else at work is hitting the snack-vending machine at break time. Use the buddy system.

4. Explain to your boss, your family and your friends ahead of time that you may be a little, er, eccentric for the next month -- that you may forget stuff. That you may babble incoherently. You may get that glassy-eyed look. And you could also tend to lose your temper. However, do promise them that you won't go so far as to start throwing tables and chairs.

5. Hang in there. You know that you are gonna feel really proud of yourself every time that you make it to sunset. Go you!

6. Live in Manhattan. Start your daily fast just as the sun rises over the Empire State Building and end your fast just when the sun begins to set behind Trump Tower.