Since I published my first blog-post What did I get myself into: A non-Muslim joining the Ramadan, I got a lot of reactions both as a comment in my blog post but also in private messages. You might be surprised when I tell you that there are many non-Muslims that fast during Ramadan and I am far from the only one. All for their own reasons. Many asked me to share the rest of my experience.
When going to work and have a kind of daily routine it isn’t really that hard to fast. It is just ignoring the hunger and thirst for the day but time goes fast and when I come home it is not that long until I can eat even though I find the last hour to be the hardest. It is just a small step to give in and drop out when being so close to the set time. Like my mind is telling me that a half hour or a few minutes won’t matter but they do and it gives a satisfying feeling when I made it all the way through without breaking the fast too early.
It is harder to fast when I have a day off and when I have to join activities where everyone is eating and I sit there watching and being the only one that is not eating. Not so much because of people eating in front of me. That is not really an issue. Most people accept that Muslims do fast in Ramadan and they don’t have to explain themselves. But for me as a non-Muslim joining the Ramadan, it was kind of hard to explain to other people why I didn’t eat. I knew most of them wouldn’t understand why I would join. People often don’t like those that dare to be different, to go their own path. We should rather be all the same and behave the same way. But how exciting is that?
When we broke out of the cult, I lost everything.
I lost my friends, my identity and didn’t know who I was anymore. And maybe I never knew who I really was because growing up in the Message there were so many rules, so many expectations about how I had to be, that I never could be myself. And joining the Ramadan is a part of my journey. I am doing this for me. To learn about and to experience another culture. To find out who I am and to show myself that I am not that weak as I feel sometimes. That some of my friends bet when I will drop out, doesn’t bother me at all. It just makes me more determined to see this through.
My husband is used to my crazy ideas and the crazy things I do sometimes. He always supports me but might shake his head but he never says anything negative about it. So he supports me in this too.
I continued the fast again after a few days break and it was Norway’s constitution day.
17th of May is a big day in Norway that we celebrate from early morning until late evening. I play the flute in the local Korps (marching band) and we use to wake up all the town’s people by marching and playing different marches in the streets. After that, we marched in our neighbor town that doesn’t have a Korps and then back to our own village again to march in front of all the town people. We marched about 10 km total that day.
After marching, there is always this party. People will hold speeches and children will play games. I was really exhausted from the playing and marching that I didn’t stay that long and went home. As tired as I was, I fell asleep on the couch. My dogs were laying all around me. It was so peaceful and quiet. But because I was so hungry and thirsty I was dreaming about this large table of food and drinks that looked so delicious and fresh.
I woke up from the smell of fresh, sweet strawberries. It felt like heaven. I didn’t know they could smell so good. My husband had come home after his two weeks work week in the capital and wanted to share some strawberries with me. He had already forgotten I was fasting. I don’t really remember what I told him half awake.. must have been some stupid things since it made him laugh.
What I learned so far:
1. Women can’t fast when they have their period:
First I looked at it as a kind of punishment. Why wouldn’t you be allowed to fast? Then I realized that it is a blessing and wisdom not to fast while having my period. The body goes in detox when a woman has her menstruation and besides that most of us do struggle with menstruation pains and maybe another discomfort. Taking a break from the fast because of menstruation I think is an act of mercy.
2. You can take a day off from the fast when you travel:
My dad had his 60th birthday and his wife arranged a surprise birthday party for him. We left early in the morning and traveled 5-6 hours by car. I do always get very carsick when I don’t eat before we travel. So I asked my friend if it is true you can skip a day while traveling during the day. And yes you can.
3. If a Muslim person breaks their fast unintentionally, there is no punishment.
For example: When you are cooking it is allowed to taste the food with the tongue. But you are not allowed to eat spoonfuls. When you forget about fasting and eat some of the food it isn’t a bad thing.
When you miss a couple of days because of one of these reasons, you can fast the same number of days after the Ramadan. This so all do equal days. But you can choose when.
Losing or gaining weight
You would think people lose a lot of weight during Ramadan. But many do eat too much once they can break the fast. As Seema Khan writes on her blog about Intermittent Fasting:
“Like I hinted earlier, a lot of people gain weight during Ramadan because they make terrible choices at the end of the day. They’re hungry, tired, and thirsty and the food on the table in front of them (more often than not) packs in an astounding number of calories and next to no nutritional value. Couple that with the fact that the grand ‘stuffery’ leaves little room for water, you’re looking at the perfect storm.”
I have now learned not to stuff myself with a lot of food when I finally can break the fast but rather eat two healthy meals and drink a lot of tea before I go to bed and try to drink some when I wake up during the night. The first week I gained weight but now I am back to my weight from before the Ramadan and it is stable.
The more I learn about Ramadan the more I like it.
Before I would look at it as a kind of punishment. Why would people fast for 30 days and put themselves through this suffering? I would pity them and feel sorry for them. But as a non-Muslim joining the Ramadan and two weeks in, I start to see the beauty of it.
I did feel left out when I had to break my fast because of my period and my friends were talking about what they were going to eat for Iftar (evening meal when they break the fast) while I was having my lunch. There is this kind of joy and satisfaction in looking forward to a dinner when you are hungry. Planning what to eat and when the time finally arrives you can eat, it gives a feeling of victory because you were strong enough to last through the day.