There were a few reasons for committing to the fast - not just to continue my immersion into the local culture, but also because I wanted to share the experience with my Muslim colleagues at work. Not only that, but I also wanted to test my own commitment, my self discipline and learn something about myself in the process. Lets face it, for a large part of the fasting time, I would be alone - particularly on the weekend - no one but me would know if I was breaking my fast - so the commitment needed to be total - for myself.
As all good Muslims know, Ramadan, the most holy of months, is a sunrise to sunset fast - where nothing at all is to pass the lips, including water. It is not simply about food and drink though - Muslims also refrain from smoking, sexual relations, swearing and sinful thoughts - in fact colleagues at work also refrain from being critical of others and try to stay calm and use the time for quiet reflection and further prayer. Ramadan lasts a month and is based on the sightings of the crescent moon.
I've been setting my Suhoor alarm every day for a couple of weeks now and I quite enjoy it. I have my porridge, and then spend a few moments standing on the balcony listening to the call to prayer - which is magical at that time of the morning, and then spend the next 15 hours consuming nothing at all until around 6.30pm when I hear the call to prayer and prepare my Iftar.
I follow tradition in breaking my fast with three dates, as the prophet, Muhammad did. I have mine with three spoons of yogurt. Muslims will usually then go to pray before starting the next course, which for most people Ive spoken to is soup. It is supposed to help the stomach open up and prepare it to receive more food. This was also what I had with Raeda (a work colleague) and her family when I went there for what I can only describe as proper full on Iftar - absolutely amazing spread of food!! Normally, at home, I would follow the dates with a small salad and then have something a little later such as rice and lentils or noodles.
Afterwards, Raeda and I went out to the local hypermarket and had some fun window shopping for dresses and jewellery and then did some food shopping - which is not so easy when you've eaten alot!!