Monday, September 24, 2007

Ramadan Kareem :)

The title, by the way, means "Holy Ramadan." Since I really have no idea who reads this, I'm guessing I should give a little rundown of what I've been doing the past week or so.

Ramadan is one of two major Islamic holy periods. Note: "holy period" not "holiday." This particular holy time is a month long and held at the start of the appropriate new moon (ala the lunar calendar). During the month muslims around the world abstain from food and drink (yes, even water) from sunrise to sunset. In addition, there are numerous things that many try to do or not to do. The most common are usually to do charity, good deeds, and read the qur'aan and not to swear, do bad deeds (hard with the traffic in L.A.), lie, or commit any major sins.

Some more important, though lesser known notes about this:

-yes, there are religious reasons why a person is unable to do this fast. If you're a woman and are getting your period or are dealing with pregnancy, if you're sick, traveling, need medical attention, etc.

-it's a common tradition to wake up just before dawn and eat and drink water until the latest possible time. This meal is called "suhoor."

-the end of Ramadan (the last 10 days) is commonly considered to be the most holy time of the month (yes, that's right, doubly holy), and there is a tricky situation: Ending your fast too soon is religiously bad - likewise, ending too late is also. Fasting during Eid (the celebration/holiday period after Ramadan) is discouraged/taboo. Many muslims now run by common, scientifically calculated and agreed upon dates for the beginning and end of Ramadan - but among some it is still a hotly contested issue for this reason (and back in the day this made Eid that much more of a celebration - you never knew for sure when the new moon would be visible, so you waited each night for word).

Anyway, all that being said, I've been fasting for about a week now. Some things that used to be hard are easy, other things that were easy are unexpectedly hard. The challenges seem to change by the year - although that might just be because my life changes by the year.

Thus far this year I've been staying awake after dawn and doing work until about noon, then taking a mandatory nap. It works for a few days - and then I'm exhausted because I've also been staying up too late.

Finding a nutritional balance is always hard - but this year I've taken the additional challenge of continuing to train capoeira 3-4 times a week. Thus I find myself stuffing myself a little bit in fear of fatigue - and just today I was weak because I didn't do that (seemingly). Anyway, I'm always amazed to find out how much I can do while fasting. I guess professional athletes do the same - but they're professionals, so I'd assume they're better at it.

It turns out, if you want to worry about my physical well being while fasting, sleep is the hardest thing, not food.

So that's basically it - and probably enough information for now. Besides, I should really should try to get better at that sleep thing.

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