Rama-reflections - week 1

During Ramadan in the Muslim world, most restaurants are closed during the daylight hours. Here in Urumqi, that is not always true. There is such a vast diversity of peoples, so many restaurants are open for business, with slightly less patrons. Many families get up early for suhoor, a meal eaten before sunrise. Throughout the day, people will frequent the local mosque, offer regular times of prayer, and dress up if they go out. I have noticed more Uyghur men wearing their hats, and older women are dressed a bit nicer than normal. Also, during the afternoon - it seems quieter than usual! After the sun sets, the fast is broken with a meal known as iftar. We hear that Iftar usually begins with dates & sweet drinks that provide a quick energy boost. Most nights - the sunset is around 6:20pm, local time - so its not that hard to wait for a bountiful dinner.

But we have noticed some interesting things:
  • Many of our Muslim friends do not adhere to the strict fast. Many of them eat during the day for various reasons (their tummy hurts, they are working too hard, job forbids them, etc).
  • When we ask our friends why they celebrate Ramadan, we get an array of answers (to pay for our bad deeds, to know what its like to be poor, to follow the tradition of our ancestors, the Koran says to, even to lose weight!). So far only one friend has been able to communicate the correct reason Ramadan is celebrated this month. Times are a-changing.
  • Fasting this month is expected for every Muslim - so its funny when everyone disappears during lunchtime. Where do they go? One day Justin saw one girl eating during lunch, and she was very embarrassed. Maybe being on a campus is harder for students, but we have been surprised by how many do not adhere to the fast.