By Khaula Mazhar

It’s that time of the year again! A time to treat yourself to mouth watering samosas, crispy pakoras, fresh fruit salad, tall cold glasses of refreshing juices, spicy mixed chaat smothered in creamy yogurt and …fasting. Fasting is the main focus, sorry I get distracted by the food!

You get asked some questions in Ramadan by curious co-workers or classmates or just the neighbors who can smell the aromatic invitations of fried perfection creating a tantalizing aura around your house.

Why do you fast?

Why do we fast? Fasting is like a refresher course (and God knows we need it after whole year of doing stuff we shouldn’t be doing!). It reminds us that we submit to the Highest Power in obedience and do our own checks on humility, truthfulness, empathy and charity. For example if you have just bought an expensive, one-of-a-kind designer outfit for Eid, please do not flaunt the fact to moms who have vomitty babies and wouldnt dare wear anything like it. Do not lie to your mother-in-law about being sick on the day of her Iftar dinner so you don’t have to fry 200 pakoras. (Don’t lie about anything!) Show some empathy and fry those pakoras with a smile. Do spend as much as you can on charity, you did just buy a designer outfit, so don’t complain about the economy as an excuse.

Don’t you get really hungry?

Shake your head solemnly (in the negative!) and paste a martyr like expression on your face as you reminisce about the parathas, fried eggs, and karai chicken you had for Sehri and dream of  all the goodies that await you at Iftar. I guess you should mention that we do stuff ourselves enough to last the whole day. Inform them that we do have Suhoor before sunrise so that we may provide our bodies with the fuel needed to last the long day of fasting. Also, remind them that we are allowed to enjoy many delicious foods after sunset; Iftar. Although we do feel hunger, the blessing is in the struggle and it makes us more aware of those who do not have a meal to look forward to.

Why do Muslims start Ramadan on different days?

We follow the lunar calendar. We depend on whether or not the moon is visible to decide the beginning and end of Ramadan. Some Muslims will follow their countries of origin to match Ramadan with the rest of their family and friends, some will follow the local mosques (in Canada). It is actually not that big a deal. Really.

That’s a great way to lose weight right? (They look pointedly at your belly.)

Yes actually it is. It helps detoxify not just your soul but your body as well. That’s your cue to lay off the samosas. And the parathas. And the nihari.

What happens if you accidentally eat or drink something?

Well besides very vocal alarms going off all over the house when your kids/siblings/cousins see that you have slipped, nothing. In fact if you see someone has eaten accidentally, you let them swallow and then gently remind them before they take another bite or sip, that they are fasting. Allah is very merciful and he knows that we are human. As long as it is not intentional, the person may continue fasting the rest of the day as normal.

What questions have you been asked about Ramadan? What is the funniest thing you have been asked about fasting?

About the Author

Khaula Mazhar, artist at Khaulas Art, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.