I woke up at 4:14 in the morning, shook off the cobwebs and made my way to the kitchen.  I had an apricot yogurt cereal bar.  It’s one of those snacks that marketed as a health food but is in reality only a half-step above eating a typical chocolate bar nutritionally.  I also had an apple, a soy drink and a cup of water.  This was my first suhoor, pre-dawn meal.  I did a few hours of work on my laptop before settling in for a nap.  I awoke to find out from my girlfriend, R,  that I was supposed to stop eating at 3:15.  I’ve got some learning to do. My goal is to fast each day and experience the month in a small way as a Muslim would.  This is not to imply that I intend to convert to another religion.  I am attempting to better understand the people I work with and the students I teach.  I also have to confess here that I realize that my experience will not be remotely similar to that of a Muslim.  I do not know any of the prayers nor do I know how to perform them.  Further to that, the month won’t have the same spiritual significance to me.  However, I do intend to follow the custom of reading 1 of the 30 parts of the Koran each day (each part is called a juz, pronounced ‘juice’) so that by the end of the month I will have read the entire Koran.  So at the very least, I will be better educated about Islam as Ramadan progresses.
The first day’s activities during Ramadan were much the same as any other day. The main difference for me was remembering to avoid holding R’s hand.  As part of the fasting, there is to be no physical contact between men and women.   Otherwise, for me, it was much like other days. There was shopping for food and cooking so we could get ready for breaking the fast.  R and I cooked Indonesian food.  She made a curried tofu dish called tahu kuah kuning, one of my favorite Indonesian foods.  I made sambal telur, spicy quail eggs.  We enjoyed our meal outside in the park at Souq Waqif and then went home for a massive nap followed.  I woke up at 11:30 and took R back to her place.

From there instead of going home I went to the gym.  In addition to fasting during Ramadan, I am also training for another triathlon, this time in August.  So while riding the stationary bike, I found a youtube video with an English Translation of the first juz on youtube that had subtitles so I listened to that and read along.  I shall summarize and note on my blog here each juz as the month progresses.  However, I shall not be commenting on them.

The first juz deals mainly with a couple of themes. The first being that there is one true God named Allah and that the way to live a good and noble life has been provided to people through the prophets of Allah.  From here the book also warns that there are non-believers whose minds and hearts are closed to these teachings.  The book reminds the reader not to be fooled by these non-believers who will be judged and condemned to fire after they die.  For those who believe, the reward will be life in a beautiful garden in their afterlife.  I also noted this juz states that on the last day people will be judged based on their belief in Allah and their deeds in life. And this applies whether the person is Christian or Jewish or Sabian (a faith with which I am unfamiliar). I’ll post my summary of the second juz tomorrow as well as anything of note that happens during the day.