The real hunger games have begun and thousands of Muslims are fasting from Sunrise to sunset in NYC. Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramadan which requires a daily fast during a time period of up to 30 days. This year Ramadan started on July 10th and we are already three weeks in. Fasting during the summer months can be very exhausting. July being one of the hottest months of the year in NYC was no exception during these past three weeks. The heat skyrocketed to the high 90s with relentless humidity that attacked there after. IF anyone is familiar with NYC then they will know how abrasive the humidity could be during the summer months. Besides the heat, the days are much longer during this month as well. Sunrise begins in the early morning at 4AM and Sunset is not until 8:30 PM in the evening. That is a 16+ hour time frame that muslims must abstain from food & drink.
The fasting portion portion is easily obtainable but the obstacles that I’ve encountered have made Ramadan somewhat difficult. Due to lack of nourishment the body is sluggish and weak. This causes tiredness which in turn may result in delayed productivity and or poor work results. Muslims in the western world are not given a free pass to re-organize their work day accordingly and therefore work a full shift all the while being light headed. This is the contrary to Muslims in predominantly Muslim countries. The School, work, play schedule is adjusted for the community in the muslim world. I envy those who could take vacation off or travel to the middle-east during this time.
The day of fasting is long but we make up for what we missed after sunset. The idea of fasting allows an individual to understand humanity and struggles thereof. Millions of people across the world are without food and this experience is humbling. However, after sunset the tables are filled from end to end from every category of food imaginable. The evening becomes a celebration of food where we eat everything we desired during the day time. This sort of defeats the purpose but satisfies the senses. At times I would eat more after Sunset during Ramadan then I would eat in a standard day throughout the year. Some people may lose weight during Ramadan but many will gain primarily due to overeating during the evening hours. Many would agree with me especially when Iftar is approaches and their stomachs are growling. Iftar for non-muslims is a term used to describe the time when fast is broken with a date or glass of water. Mosques will open their doors every evening for Iftar gatherings. Not to mention NYC has tons of Islamic / Arab organizations that schedule and host Iftar/Ramadan events throughout the month.
After Iftar my family would normally go to the Masjid to make Taraweeh prayer although my stomach is full and I could barely walk. . Taraweeh can be performed through the year but is normally conducted in Mosques during Ramadan. Taraweeh is an evening prayer consisting of up to 20 Rakat or cycles. It is solely the decision of the individual of how many he or she will pray if any at all. Taraweeh is not compulsory but more or less an enhancement. Nonetheless a large amount of the community appear during the evening hours to rejoice in prayer. It is an incredibly self gratifying feeling to gather in groups and make prayers during the evening hours.
Ramadan this year has been somewhat difficult but also very rewarding. Many will find that during this time their bad habits been eliminated such as smoking, ill behavior, or anything negative that affected oneself or others. Fasting through a long day is not only a restraint on food but behavior in general. During this time I myself have been able to read more Islamic material since my brain has been freed from everyday negative complexities. In turn, I’ve revamped my entire lifestyle and made an affective positive gain towards enriching thyself. We are in the last days and Soon Ramadan will be over. After Ramadan the religious holiday of Eid Al Fitr will be commemorated and muslims will gather to celebrate. Then, I can resume eating Halal bacon, egg & cheese sandwiches for breakfast again.
Written by A.K. Maleeke