Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Ramadan for Non Muslims; An Annual Tradition

I wrote this post when I was living in Kuwait, for my readers in the US in particular, who knew little about Ramadan. I wrote it because I had discovered that much of what I knew about Ramadan was wrong. Living in lands where Ramadan was celebrated helped me see the month – and many of our own traditions – in a new light.

It has become a tradition to post it – or a similar post – annually for those who are interested in what Ramadan is all about.

I am repeating this post from September 13, 2007 because it found so much interest among my non-Muslim friends. We are all so ignorant of one another’s customs, why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe. There is a blessing that comes with learning more about one another – that blessing, for me, is that when I learn about other, my own life is illuminated.


(I didn’t take this photo; it is from TourEgypt.net. If you want to see an astonishing variety of Ramadan lanterns/ fanous, Google “Image Ramadan lanterns” and you will find pages of them! I didn’t want to lift someone else’s photo from Flicker or Picasa (although people do that to me all the time!) but the variety is amazing.)

Ramadan will start soon; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

There were many comments on the original post, and, as usual in the history of Here There and Everywhere, the commenters taught us all more about Ramadan than the original post. If you want to read the original post and comments, you can click HERE.

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July 18, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Ramadan | Leave a comment

Ramadan for Non Muslims – 2010

I miss the hustle and bustle of almost-Ramadan, the way the stores stock up with luxuries and delicacies not found through the rest of the year, the eager anticipation with which my friends anticipate the month of fasting, re-commitment, and gathering with friends and families with a month of specialty dishes.

Welcome Ramadan, which starts tomorrow. I am going to reprint here one of my all-time favorite articles. I wrote this originally in 2007 to help educate my western friends in some of the details related to Ramadan – and if you find that this interests you, you will want to go back to the 2007 entry and read the related comments, which are way more informative than my original article. 🙂

Ramadan for Non Muslims 2007

I am repeating this post from September 13, 2007 because it found so much interest among my non-Muslim friends. We are all so ignorant of one another’s customs, why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe. There is a blessing that comes with learning more about one another – that blessing, for me, is that when I learn about other, my own life is illuminated.


(I didn’t take this photo; it is from TourEgypt.net. If you want to see an astonishing variety of Ramadan lanterns/ fanous, Google “Image Ramadan lanterns” and you will find pages of them! I didn’t want to lift someone else’s photo from Flicker or Picasa (although people do that to me all the time!) but the variety is amazing.)

Ramadan will start soon; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

There were many comments on the original post, and, as usual in the history of Here There and Everywhere, the commenters taught us all more about Ramadan than the original post. If you want to read the original post and comments, you can click HERE.

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Events, ExPat Life, Holiday, Ramadan | 2 Comments

Ramadan For Non Muslims

This is becoming a tradition. I wrote the first Ramadan for Non Muslims post in 207, and repeated it last year. As Ramadan moves inexorably into the hottest months of the year, the sacrifice only increases. Ramadan is slated to start this year on August 22, but that will be determined by the moonsighting committee; those who watch for the very first glimmer of the thinnest crescent moon of the lunar month of Ramadan.

Already, stores are increasing their supplies of specialty foods, which includes, to my amusement, oatmeal, which I must eat, and I detest. There are also increased supplies of nuts and candied fruits, eggs and creams and fabulous desserts and exotic fruits. Little lambies are not long for this earth, and cows and grown sheep are not far behind. This is not the season for killing the fatted fig.

My first Ramadan ever, in Tunisia in 1979, I remember they had bananas – it was the only time all year we saw bananas, real Chiquita bananas, a boat brought them in. On the other hand, the night I had a dinner party, eggs totally disappeared, and cream, all bought up by what my friends call “the Ramadaners.”

Imagine, if you can, an entire month of Advent and Christmas. Observant Moslems fast every day, from dawn to sunset, and gather with family and friends to celebrate and feast every night. Some women have a new dress for every day of Ramadan. The tailors are crazy; this and the Eid al Kebir provide them with guaranteed income and their busiest time of the year.

Most Westerners don’t understand Ramadan. I wrote the original article to try to explain Ramadan to them, that the season is as holy to them as our Lent and Easter are to us. Ramadan was the month when The Qur’an was transmitted to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. Most Moslems try to read through the entire Qur’an at least one time during each Ramadan, and then many go to Mekka on the Hajj at the end of Ramadan. I have given you references to both of the original articles, because as is my great joy on this blog, my readers filled in a lot of blanks, and gave us a lot of information that I didn’t have. The comments at the end of the two articles are better than the original article, thanks to my readers.

Please, if you have anything to add, ahlen wa sahlen, you are welcome. It is a joy to learn from you.

First Ramadan for Non Muslims + comments

Second Ramadan for Non Muslims + comments

Ramadan started last night; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

August 21, 2009 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Doha, Eid, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Qatar, Shopping, Spiritual | 14 Comments

Ramadan for Non Muslims

I am repeating this post from September 13, 2007 because it found so much interest among my non-Muslim friends. We are all so ignorant of one another’s customs, why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe. There is a blessing that comes with learning more about one another – that blessing, for me, is that when I learn about other, my own life is illuminated.


(I didn’t take this photo; it is from TourEgypt.net. If you want to see an astonishing variety of Ramadan lanterns/ fanous, Google “Image Ramadan lanterns” and you will find pages of them! I didn’t want to lift someone else’s photo from Flicker or Picasa (although people do that to me all the time!) but the variety is amazing.)

Ramadan will start soon; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

There were many comments on the original post, and, as usual in the history of Here There and Everywhere, the commenters taught us all more about Ramadan than the original post. If you want to read the original post and comments, you can click HERE.

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Photos, Relationships, Shopping, Social Issues, Spiritual | 12 Comments

Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan for Non-Muslims

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 7.21.36 PM

I wrote this post in 2007, when I was living in Kuwait. It has become an annual tradition to repeat it.

Ramadan will start soon; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

There were many comments on the original post, and, as usual in the history of Here There and Everywhere, the commenters taught us all more about Ramadan than the original post. If you want to read the original post and comments, you can click HERE.

This year, Ramadan in the Northern Hemisphere will be one of the hottest, least comfortable ever. Imagine, having to refrain from all food and drink, from swimming, from smoking, from dawn to dusk for an entire month. People still have to work, although at some work sites, hours are reduced. Driving will be horrible, especially toward dusk when people are starving and eager to break the fast.

May God grant his mercy to all those fasting in 2014, may your fast be blessed. may the All Merciful and All Generous listen to your prayers; may the hours of fasting pass quickly and pleasantly, and may you enjoy the blessings of family closeness and religious insights.

June 27, 2014 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, Faith, Ramadan, Spiritual | 3 Comments

Ramadan for Non-Muslims 2011

Ramadan is coming, coming with a vengence, it is almost here. Ramadan is expected to start with the sighting of the new moon on August 1st. I am feeling happy – a friend has asked me to help her find special Eid dresses for her daughter returning to Saudi Arabia. I know what she is looking for, and I am at a loss as to where they might be found. I will check tomorrow with friends who have lived in Pensacola for a long time and see what they have to suggest.


Meanwhile, as is my annual tradition, I will reprint an article I wrote in September 2007, Ramadan for Non Muslims. Even better, go back to the original Ramadan for Non Muslims and read the comments – I’ve always learned the best information from my commenters. 🙂

Ramadan for the Non Muslim

Ramadan started last night; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

Again, click here and go to the original article to read the comments. People were so helpful and so informative; it’s an easy way to learn about the meaning of Ramadan.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Pensacola, Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, Shopping, Spiritual | Leave a comment

Ramadan for Non-Muslims

Ramadan started last night; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Ramadan, Social Issues, Spiritual | 28 Comments

When Does Ramadan Start in 2018?

Ramadan for Non-Muslims, through the years on Here There and Everywhere

Checking my stats, I can see a sudden upswing on Friday, the day off in almost all Moslem countries. I haven’t posted in the last couple days, but it seems to me, it is just about time to be thinking about Ramadan starting.

When I was still living in the Middle East, I would write an annual entry explaining Ramadan to my non-Muslim readers. Even better, my Moslem friends and readers would add comments, correcting anything I had gotten wrong and adding more.

Bottom line – while for non-Muslims, it is easy to perceive the month-long fast as impossible deprivation, to the Moslems, it is a month of loving celebration, visiting with family, fabulous meals at the end of a long day of fasting, and an opportunity to devote one’s thought to God/Allah/Yahweh and to serve him in the holy tradition of fasting. Many times, overseas, I had Moslems serve me food during Ramadan; I would beg them not to, but they would tell me there was joy in serving food to others and not partaking themselves; they did it as an act of worship, a sacrifice. I could see their joy in their eyes and their visible pleasure in serving.

The traditional words of greeting to a Moslem during Ramadan are “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem.” The first is a wish that Ramadan be a blessing to the worshipper, the second a wish that Ramadan be generous, supply all the needs, spiritual and otherwise.

Ramadan Mubarak, my friends, and Ramadan Kareem.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Ramadan | Leave a comment

Ramadan Fasting and Diabetics

Technically, those who are ill are not required to fast, but my diabetic friends have said they can fast if they do it cautiously. I found this fascinating report on diabetics and fasting, particularly Ramadan fasting. You can reference the website Islam.ru.

Source:By: Fereidoun Azizi, MD, and Behnam Siahkolah, MD,/ Intl. Journal of Ramadan Fasting Research* / islamicity.com/October 31/2002 , res

  Several of the world’s great religions recommend a period of fasting or abstinence from certain foods. Of these, the Islamic fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan is strictly observed every year. Islam specifically outlines one full month of intermittent fasting. The experience of fasting is intended to teach Muslims self-discipline and self-restraint and remind them of the plight of the impoverished. Muslims observing the fast are required to abstain not only from eating and drinking, but also from consuming oral medications and intravenous nutritional fluids.

The month of Ramadan contains 28 days to 30 days. The dates of observance differ each year because Ramadan is set to a lunar calendar. Fasting extends each day from dawn until sunset, a period which varies by geographical location and season. In summer months and northern latitudes, the fast can last up to 18 hours or more. Islam recommends that fasting Muslims eat a meal before dawn, called “sahur.” Individuals are exempt from Ramadan fasting if they are suffering from an illness that could be adversely affected by fasting. They are allowed to restrain from fasting for one day to all 30 days, depending on the condition of their illness. People diagnosed with diabetes fall into this category and are exempt from the fasting requirement, but they are often loathe to accept this concession.  Physicians working in Muslims countries and communities commonly face the difficult task of advising diabetic patients whether it is safe to fast, as well as recommending the dietary and drug regimens diabetics should follow if they decide to fast. The lack of adequate literature on this subject makes it difficult to answer these questions. To judge correctly whether to grant medical permission to fast to a diabetic patient, it is essential physicians have an appreciation of the effect of Ramadan fasting on the pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus. In this article, we first review principles of carbohydrate metabolism and alterations of certain biochemical variables in diabetics observing Ramadan fasting. We then overview current medical recommendations that allow certain diabetic patients to fast and outline terms for diabetic patients, particularly IDDM patients, who should not fast but insist on fasting.

THE PHYSIOLOGICAL STATE OF DIABETICS DURING RAMADAN

Carbohydrate metabolism during Ramadan fasting in healthy persons

The effect of experimental short-term fasting on carbohydrate metabolism has been extensively studied (1,2). It has been uniformly found that a slight decrease in serum glucose to 3.3 mmol to 3.9 mmol (60 mg/dl to 70 mg/dl) occurs in normal adults a few hours after fasting has begun. However, the reduction in serum glucose ceases due to increased gluconeogenesis in the liver. That occurs because of a decrease in insulin concentration and a rise in glucagon and sympathetic activity (3).   In children aged one years to nine years, fasting for a 24-hour period has caused a decrease in the blood glucose to half of the baseline figure for normal children of that age group. In 22% of these children, blood glucose has fallen below 40 mg/dl (4). Few studies have shown the effect of Ramadan fasting on serum glucose (5-9). One study has shown a slight decrease in serum glucose in the first days of Ramadan, followed by normalization by the twentieth day and a slight rise by the twenty-ninth day of Ramadan (6). The lowest serum glucose level in this study was 63 mg/dl. Others have shown a mild increase (7) or variation in serum glucose concentration (8,9), but all of them fell within physiological limits (6). From the foregoing studies, one may assume that the stores of glycogen, along with some degree of gluconeogenesis, maintain normal limits of serum glucose when a fast follows a large pre-dawn meal. However, slight changes in serum glucose may occur in individuals depending upon food habits and individual differences in metabolism and energy regulation.

Body weight during Ramadan fasting

(a) In normal subjects:

Weight losses of 1.7 kg. (10), 1.8 kg. (11), 2.0 kg. (12) and 3.8 kg (13) have been reported in normal weight individuals after they have fasted for the month of Ramadan. In one study that was over-represented by females, no change in body weight was seen (14). It has also been reported that overweight persons lose more weight than normal or underweight subjects (12).

(b) In diabetics:

A review of literature shows controversy about weight changes in diabetics during Ramadan.(6,15-24). In one group of studies, patients had an increase in their weight (17,21). In another group, there were no change (15,19,22,23) or a decrease (6,16,18,20,24) in body weight.  While no food or drink is consumed between dawn and sunset during the month of Ramadan, there is no restriction on the amount or type of food consumed at night (23,25). Furthermore, most diabetics reduce their daily activities (15,23) during this period in fear of hypoglycemia. These factors may result in not only a lack of weight loss, but also a weight gain in such patients(26). (See later discussion about nutrition and physical activity.)

Blood glucose variations during Ramadan fasting in diabetics

Most patients show no significant change in their glucose control (3,23,24,27). In some patients, serum glucose concentration may fall or rise (28-30). This variation may be due to the amount or type of food consumption, regularity of taking medications, engorging after the fast is broken, or decreased physical activities. In most cases, no episode of acute complications (hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic types) occurs in patients under medical management(9,15,16,22), And only a few cases of biochemical hypoglycemia without clinical hazards have been reported (17,19,25).

Other parameters of diabetes control during Ramadan fasting

In general, HbAIC values show no change or even improvement during Ramadan (15-18,20,22,23,25,27,28,32). Only two studies have reported slight increases in glycated hemoglobin levels (19,31). However, one report has emphasized the same increase in non-fasting patients as fasting patients (31), and the other has shown a return to initial levels immediately after the month of Ramadan (19).

The amount of fructosamine (17,22,24,30,32), insulin, C-peptide (23,30) also has been reported to have no significant change before and during Ramadan fasting.

Energy intake and serum lipid variables during Ramadan fasting in diabetics

The amount of Energy (calorie) intake have been reported in some of the literature, indicating a decrease in energy intake (24,28).

Most patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM, diabetes type II) and insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM, diabetes type I) show no change or a slight decrease in concentrations of total cholesterol and triglyceride (15-19,27,28,32). Increase in total cholesterol levels during Ramadan seldom occurs (23). As in healthy persons (33-36), few studies have reported increases in high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in diabetics during Ramadan (18,19,27). One report indicates an increase in low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and a decrease in HDL-cholesterol (28). Until there is a standardization of diabetes Ramadan research in three fundamental factors — the Three D Triangle of drug regimens, diet control and daily activity — the benefits or hazards of Ramadan fasting on diabetics serum lipids is unclear.

Other biological parameters during Ramadan fasting in diabetics

Serum creatinine, uric acid, blood urea nitrogen, protein, albumin, alanine amino-transferase, aspartate amino-transferase values do not show significant changes during the fasting period(15,17,32). Slight non-significant increases in some biological parameters may be due to dehydration and metabolic adaptation and have no clinical presentation.

 
FASTING GUIDELINES TO DIABETICS

During the last two decades, a better understanding of pathophysiological changes during Ramadan fasting in diabetic patients has provided a few guidelines on how to advise diabetics who want to fast. Physicians working with Muslim diabetics should employ certain criteria to advise their patients regarding the safety of Ramadan fasting.

The following criteria should be helpful in making such a decision (20,37):

Forbid fasting in:

  • All brittle type I diabetic patients;
  • Poorly controlled type I or type II diabetic patients;
  • Diabetic patients known to be incompliant in terms of following advice on diet drug regimens and daily activity;
  • Diabetic patients with serious complications such as unstable angina or uncontrolled hypertension;
  • Patients with a history of diabetic ketoacidosis;
  • Pregnant diabetic patients;
  • Diabetic patients will inter-current infections;
  • Elderly patients with any degree of alertness problems;
  • Two or more episodes of hypoglycemia and/or hyperglycemia during Ramadan.

 Allow fasting in:

  • Patients who do not have the aforementioned criteria;
  • Patient who accept medical advisement.

 Encourage fasting in:

  • All overweight NIDDM patients (except for pregnant or nursing mothers) whose diabetes is stable with weight levels 20% above the ideal weight or body mass index (body weight, kg/height, meters squared) greater than 28.

EDUCATION OF THE DIABETICS BEFORE RAMADAN

NIDDM patients and IDDM patients who insist on fasting should be given a few recommendations about fasting (16). They should be forbidden from skipping meals, taking medication irregularly or gorging after the fast is broken (26).

The principles of pre-Ramadan considerations are (37):

  1. assessment of physical well being;
  2. assessment of metabolic control;
  3. adjustment of the diet protocol for Ramadan fasting;
  4. adjustment of the drug regimen e.g. change long-acting hypoglycemic drugs to short-acting drugs to prevent hypoglycemia);
  5. encouragement of continued proper physical activity;
  6. recognition of warning symptoms of dehydration, hypoglycemia and other possible complications.

RECOMMENDATIONS DURING RAMADAN FASTING

I. Nutrition and Ramadan fasting:

Dietary indiscretion during the non-fasting period with excessive gorging, or compensatory eating, of carbohydrate and fatty foods contributes to the tendency towards hyperglycemia and weight gain (21,23). It has been emphasized that Ramadan fasting benefits appear only in patients who maintain their appropriate diets (24,38,39). Thus, in order to optimize control, diabetics must be reminded to abstain from the high-calorie and highly-refined foods prepared during this month (38).

II. Physical activity and Ramadan fasting:

Several studies indicate that light to moderate regular exercise during Ramadan fasting is harmless for NIDDM patients (15). It has been shown that fasting does not interfere with tolerance to exercise (40). It should be impressed upon diabetic patients that it is necessary to continue their usual physical activity especially during non-fasting periods (41)

III. Drug regimens for IDDM patients:

Some experienced physicians conclude Ramadan fasting is safe for IDDM patients with proper self-monitoring and close professional supervision (16). It is fundamental to adjust the insulin regimen for good IDDM control during Ramadan fasting. Two insulin therapy methods have been studied successfully:

  1. Three-dose insulin regimen: two doses before meals (sunset and Dawn) of short-acting insulin and one dose in the late evening of intermediate-acting insulin (16).

  2. Two-dose insulin regimen: Evening insulin combined with short-acting and medium-acting insulin equivalent to the previous morning dosage, and a pre-dawn insulin consisting only of a regular dosage of 0.1-0.2 unit/kg (25).

Home blood glucose monitoring should be performed just before the sunset meal and three hours afterwards. It should also be performed before the pre-dawn meal to adjust the insulin dose and prevent any hypoglycemia and post-prandial hyperglycemia following over-eating.

 IV. Drug regimens for NIDDM patients:

Available reports indicate that there are no major problems encountered with NIDDM overweight patients who observe fasting in Ramadan (3). With proper changes in the dosage of hypoglycemic agents there will be low risk for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

The authors of the largest series of patients treated with glibenclamide during Ramadan recommended that diabetics switch the morning dose (together with any mid-day dose) of this drug with the dosage taken at sunset (31).

V. Other health tips for reduction of complications:

  1. Implementation of the 3D Triangle of Ramadan — drug regimen adjustment, diet control and daily activity — as the three pillars for more successful fasting during Ramadan.

  2. Diabetic home management that consists of:

    – Monitoring home blood glucose especially for IDDM patients, as described above;

    – Checking urine for acetone (IDDM patients);

    – Measuring daily weights and informing physicians of weight reduction (dehydration, low food intake, polyuria) or weight increase (excessive calorie intake) above two kilograms;

    Recording daily diet intake (prevention of excessive and very low energy consumption).

  3. Education about warning symptoms of dehydration, hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

  4. Education about breaking fast as soon as any complication or new harmful condition occurs.

  5. Immediate medical help for diabetics who need medical help quickly, rather than waiting for medial assistance the next day.

  6. Further attention on fasting during the summer season and geographical areas with long fasting hours.

 VI. IDDM children and Ramadan fasting:

We do not encourage fasting for IDDM children. However, a few studies demonstrate that fasting is safe among diabetic adolescents. Of these studies, one study concludes that Ramadan fasting is feasible in older children and children who have had diabetes for a long time, and it concludes fasting does not alter short-term metabolic control. Nevertheless, fasting should only be encouraged in children with good glycemic control and regular blood glucose monitoring at home (25).

POST-RAMADAN SUPERVISION OF FASTING DIABETICS

After the month of Ramadan ends, the patients therapeutic regimen should be changed back to its previous schedule. Patients should also be required to get an overall education about the impact of fasting on their physiology (37).

THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ON DIABETICS DURING RAMADAN

From a methodological point of view, few research papers on Ramadan fasting are relevant because of the absence of control periods before Ramadan and afterwards, the absence of measurements during each week of Ramadan, a lack of attention to dietary habits, food composition, food value, caloric control, weight changes and the importance of the schedule during circadian periods.

It is recommended that all these factors should be taken into consideration and that all intervening and confounding variables should be under control. It is clear that more work should be done on Ramadan fasting to evaluate physiological and pathological changes with proper research methods (42).

Fasting during the entire month of Ramadan is reserved usually for healthy Muslims. However, many diabetic patients are allowed to fast periodically during Ramadan. The magnitude of periodic total fasting effect on blood glucose and hepatic glucagon depends on the number of fasting days (43), and this should be considered in all Ramadan fasting research activities.

                                      CONCLUSION

The bulk of literature indicates that fasting in Ramadan is safe for the majority of diabetics patients with proper education and diabetic management. Most NIDDM patients can fast safely during Ramadan. Occasional IDDM patients who insist on fasting during Ramadan can also fast if they are carefully managed. Strict attention to diet control, daily activity and drug regimen adjustment is essential for successful Ramadan fasting.

To shed more light on pathophysiological changes in Ramadan fasting, in particular in Muslims diabetics, it is recommended that a multicentric international controlled clinical trial be employed to assess the effect of differences in gender, races, physical activities, food habits, sleep patterns and other important variables on physiologic and pathologic conditions during Ramadan fasting.

 

July 7, 2013 Posted by | Food, Health Issues, Ramadan | , , | Leave a comment

Ramadan in Kuwait Starts July 9

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Ramadan on July 9

KUWAIT: The fasting month of Ramadan is forecast to begin on July 9 on the basis of astronomical calculations, said astronomer Adel Al-Saadoun yesterday. Saadoun told KUNA the crescent will be visible on July 8 at 10:14 am and disappear some four minutes after sunset.

He added the sighting of the crescent would not be possible at any spot throughout the Muslim world, but would be seen through telescope in southern America. However on July 9, it would be visible in some countries including Kuwait.

Ramadan is a yearly month of fasting observed by millions of Muslims throughout the world. Kuwaitis observe and celebrate its advent and Eid Al-Fitr marking its end. People fast from dawn to dusk, and public eating, drinking or smoking is punishable by law.

My very first year blogging, I wrote a post which has become one of my all time statistical highlights, Ramadan for Non-Muslims. It was a rich time for blogging in Kuwait, lots of interchange of ideas. If you want to know more about Ramadan, be sure to read the comments by clicking on ‘comments’ at the end of the article.

June 12, 2013 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan, Social Issues, Values | 2 Comments