For the best part of the last 10 years, Ramadan has been falling on the hotter months of the year. It’s not so much the lack of food but the lack of water that has made fasting more of a struggle, toiling under the Egyptian sun and all that.
Unfortunately, Ramadan has ironically become a month of obsessing over food. The spirituality and serenity that is meant to be embraced during the holy month has largely been forgotten. Add in the hot summer months, and it has become a significantly toxic time of year.
Being totally fixated on iftar has given birth to a cocktail of bad behaviours we’ve come to blame on feeling hungry and thirsty. We’ve justified not taking responsibility for our actions by simply shrugging it off on the obligation to fast. These behaviours and attitudes have now permeated in our culture and become acceptable.
The fact is, there’s simply no excuse for them. Fasting and feeling hungry and thirsty does not give anyone and has never given anyone carte blanche to behave in any of these ways. There are many, but we’ve shortlisted them to what we feel are the key ones which affect those around us the most.
Being short tempered and impatient
Cairo is a city known infamously for its short fuse. However, during Ramadan, tempers fly through the roof like a Concorde flies across the Atlantic. The hunger pains, the cotton mouth, and the many cases of nicotine withdrawal, become sufficient conditions for free passes to having a total lack of patience, an insufferable level of irritableness, and in the worst-case scenario, fits of rage. Shouting matches and fist fights become a very common occurrence. The usual verbal threat that’s spat is “don’t let me break my fast on you”. Oh, the irony.
Fasting isn’t exclusively about abstaining from food and drink. It’s also about abstaining from negative thoughts and patterns of behaviour. If a specific thing tends to tick you off throughout the year, then Ramadan should be your opportunity to train yourself to not get so bothered by it.
This perfectly brings us to our next one. Many get the impression that fasting somehow grants them certain rights to behaving in certain ways and expecting certain things from other people at home, the workplace, and the streets. One of the biggest entitlements that tends to surface is the apparent right to having no one eat or drink in front of you. As if whoever isn’t fasting is doing so in a deliberate attempt to bait you.
Even if they aren’t, whatever their reasons may be for not fasting, they still have a right to freely eat and drink in public during fasting hours. It’s your responsibility to control or manage your cravings and emotions.
Should everybody else have to tip-toe around your own sensibilities? No. Sorry. Doesn’t work that way. Your decision to fast is a personal choice and no one else should ever have to pay the price for it. If the sight of other people eating and drinking during fasting hours incenses you so much, then you’ve completely missed the whole point of fasting in the first place.
Speeding and aggressive driving
This is probably the worst of them all as this affects the safety and lives of those around you. So you’re angry. You’re irritable. You’ve decided that it’s okay to be rude and obnoxious. You’re behaving in a very self-entitled manner, and now, you’re going to drive 10 times more aggressively and dangerously than you do the rest of the year.
It’s the final hour before iftar and everyone is driving faster and more erratically than contestants would in the World Rally Championship. You just simply can’t wait an extra minute to eat. You MUST be at the dinner table before iftar. Any second longer and you’ll die of starvation. It’s not just complete disregard for your own safety, but for everyone around you on the roads as well. The same happens in the final hours before Fagr as well. Everyone is willing to risk death or terrible injury to stuff their faces as much as possible before it’s time to fast again.
It’s no wonder there are so many road-related accidents during Ramadan. While there are no statistics publicly available to prove this, it’s easy to notice that there are many more collisions this time of the year. All thanks to the fasting-induced aggressive driving and speeding to get to food. Your callous behaviour and sense of entitlement has absolutely no value next to the life of another person.
Use this month to focus on trying to be a better person. Process your emotions. When you start to feel angry, be aware of it. Be conscious of it. Give yourself time to calm down. Give