As some of you may know, it’s now the month of Ramadan.
Now I’ll admit that if I hadn’t experienced a culture that observes this custom first-hand, I might have remained oblivious to what it involves.
But given that I have immersed myself in so many different cultures and traditions from a young age, I’m open to new experiences and appreciate multiculturalism and diversity.
I always thought it would be an interesting experiment to try Ramadan out for myself and see if I had the will power to make it through a typical working day. Would I pass out, cave in to snacks or drink water. Could I actually do it?
It’s a few years now since I undertook the challenge to fast during daylight hours, which meant I couldn’t eat or drink (not even water) until just after sunset.
I can honestly say that pushing myself to try this ritual for the best part of a whole month was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I love food, so it was brutal. I struggled to exercise in the gym without water, had to turn down lunch-time invites out and I also had to deal with some intolerance from friends.
I kept going because it was a great way to practice self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity and it also helped me understand that there are so many different ways to achieve a goal.
I didn’t do it because I just wanted to see what Muslims experienced. I took part in Ramadan because it was my personal way to empathise with the poor across the world who face hunger every day. It was also an opportunity to give something back to charity.
Get involved in #Myfoodbankfast
With this in mind, I’d like to set my readers a challenge to fast for a day (or as many days as you can).
It’s a good opportunity to get a flavour of fasting and also an insight into the suffering of people who do not have access to food and drink like we do.
As part of this challenge, I suggest donating the money you would have spent on lunch to a charity of your choice.
It could be given to a food bank such as The Trussell Trust (@Trusselltrust) which is what I am doing this year to support people in crisis.
The Trussell Trust’s 400-strong network of food banks provides a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. The Trust works with food banks to provide a services like money advice and Fuel Banks, helping people to break the cycle of poverty.
With it being summer and the days being longer, the fasts are set to be around 19 hours per day in Newcastle this year.
To prepare for the fast, a meal is eaten before sunrise (known as suhoor) and the fast for the day is broken just after sunset (known as iftar).
Obviously not everyone will be able to fast such long days. If you have any medical condition (e.g Diabetes), are pregnant or breastfeeding, or need medical attention during the day, it’s not advisable to fast. However, you can still donate to charity!
If you do take part, please let me know how you get on. You can Tweet me using the hashtag #Myfoodbankfast or update me on your progress on Instagram @Ofsaffronandcyrus – Facebook @saffronandcyrus or even email us here at email@example.com
Start date: 27th May
End date: 24th June
If a day sounds too much, then you are welcome to give it a go for part of a day, perhaps just when you are at work (eight to nine hours).
Watch this space for more information on how I get on this year! #fasting #feasts #donatetocharity #feedthehungry #MoreThanFood