We are now nearly halfway through Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. While Islam is a religion practiced by 1.8 billion people around the world, many Australians don’t know a whole lot about how this month works, or why Muslims do it.
And when non-Muslims hear Muslims go from before sunrise until dusk without any food or drink for a whole month as a religious discipline, the response is often shocked silence, followed by a barrage of questions.
Having fasted Ramadan more than twenty times, I’ve answered a lot of questions, so here are some of the most common ones I get that you, too, might have wondered:
1. Can you drink water?
Nope, not even water. In fact, I get asked “What – not even water?!” in stunned tones by non-Muslims so often, I might put that on a t-shirt as a pre-emptive answer.
It really is a genuine fast from before sunrise to after sunset, but once dusk hits, we can eat and drink as much as we want. The no-water thing can be challenging, especially if Ramadan falls in the summer months (more about that below), but so long as you're sensible about it and make sure you have lots of water during the night and early morning before you start fasting, it’s fine.
2. How do you feel by the afternoon?
By mid-afternoon I have what’s called Fasting Brain. I feel a bit foggy. For this reason, I am very partial to a Ramadan nap. I get sleepy when fasting – probably a combination of getting up very early (about 4:30am for us in Melbourne) to have a meal before starting our fast, and not having food or caffeine during the day to keep me firing. What I lose in brain-power in the mid-afternoon, I make up for in the very early morning, so I will often move my work day around, and start work really early (6am) so by the time my mental faculties start to fade, I’ve done a full day of work anyway.