When I was a child I looked forward to Ramadan. During Ramadan we used to eat much nicer food and more sweets. And we used to meet our relatives every day. Otherwise we only met them now and again. And we had a lot of fun together. Christians have a tradition of fasting too.
In the Koran it says that all Moslems must fast, as a test of our determination and patience. People who are physically unable, for example old people, people who are ill, and children, do not fast.
This year Ramadan starts on 6th May. We gather together at two fixed times to eat. Iftar is when the sun goes down, about 9 pm and Sahor is before the sun rises, about 3.30, this year.
Of course you can eat whenever you wish during the night. But times vary between countries. In Syria we used to have our first meal at about 6 pm and start our fast at about 4 pm.
Food should be particularly tasty during Ramadan, because you eat less, but work or study as usual. People can get together every day at the mosque for a prayer called Altarawih, even although this is not obligatory.
In Sweden, fasting lasts for many hours each day, which is not easy. You miss your family and friends you used to share the fast with.
”Fasting has nothing to do with being able to work or live normally, it is intended to deepen your inner life”
One way of getting used to this is doing things along with other people. You can cook lots of different kinds of food together. People living in Österäng and Näsby have done this a few times.
I'm sometimes asked how we can fast for such a long time ”How are you able to work?”
Fasting has nothing to do with being able to work or live normally, it is intended to deepen your inner life, your soul will help you to find the strength to fast. If fasting is harmful, you should eat as usual.
After Ramadan comes Eid, or Eid al Fitr, as we say, with parties which makes us feel happy, both socially and spiritually. It is also our duty to see to it that everyone is included in the festivities, poor people as well.
In Syria we were free during Eid, so it isn't easy in Sweden for the children, who want to have some fun. They have to go to school, and at the same time they see children in the Arab countries celebrating. We adults try take it up to the by being with them more after school.
Fasting is not something unique to Moslems, but there are many ways of observing a fast. In Sweden Christians start their period of Lent in February, after Shrove Tuesday (Fettisdag). Very few, if any, fast nowadays by not eating or drinking; instead they do it by not using things, for example the social media, sweets or computer games.
Lent lasts until Easter, the most important festival in the Christian church, when Jesus was crucified, died and was resurrected.
As far as I'm concerned, fasting is an exciting test, a break in the daily routine and training for both body and soul.