It must really take a lot of faith to become a “true” Muslim. Especially during the Ramadan, which almost always coincides with the peak of summer when the temperature could rise beyond the 50-degree Centigrade mark, I can’t imagine how could someone last a whole day without even drinking a single drop of water.
If you’re not aware of the Ramadan, here’s a little excerpt so you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.
“Observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time for spiritual purification achieved through fasting, self-sacrifice and prayers.
Celebrated during the ninth month of Islamic calendar, the fast is observed each day from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam. The Islamic belief that requires that Muslims perform five central duties in order to strengthen their faith. While Islam has two major sects, the Sunnis and the Shiites, all Muslims aim to realize these five pillars in their lifetime.”
Fasting is the keyword. No food, no water, not even a puff of cigarette from sunrise to sunset. FOR ONE WHOLE MONTH!
Non-Muslims, on the other hand, are not required to observe fasting during the month of Ramadan. They just had to do their un-observance in private. Consider it as a way of being considerate with our Muslim brothers who chose to observe fasting. Imagine how much burden you would be contributing to them when they see you wolfing a plateful of meat while they’re trying with all their heart and soul not to sip even a droplet of water. That means we have to cover all glass windows on the cafeteria and even the office windows so we could still enjoy our mini-snack bars during tea breaks.
Also, the regular office hours got to be shifted from the usual 7AM to 7PM to 6AM to 6PM. That means we had to wake up at 4 in the morning instead of 5 to prepare for work. But one good thing that springs from all these adjustments is that we can go home an hour earlier (therefore getting virtually reconnected an hour earlier with our homeland, read: TIME ZONES) not to mention the sudden disappearance of vehicles on the desert road from the usual heavy traffic during non-Ramadan days when your cars could almost always got stuck side-by-side a truckload of goats and sheep.
And just like the assorted mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn or Moon Cake Festival in China, samosa, more popularly known among the desert locals as sambusa, suddenly become the sales top grosser on groceries, convenience stores and street markets.
Those are samosas in assorted flavors. Most of the Filipinos here try to avoid picking the curry-flavored ones but my least favorite are the ones with goats cheese filling. A colleague said he bought a pack for SAR5 on the first day of Ramadan but, due to its popularity, a bag already costs SAR15 on the second day.
“Desert life was like a bag of samosas. You never know what you’re gonna get.”