Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010
Ramadan is the hardest month for me to be away from my family and country. I spend weekdays working in the lab. From 2 p.m. I start to feel tired. Not eating is not a major problem for me, but not drinking in such an exceptionally hot summer is a challenge! I realize that water is a great blessing and should be consumed responsibly. I'm experiencing the suffering of people living in countries with insufficient drinking water. And this is one of the greatest messages of Ramadan: patience and humility.
Ramadan in Japan is unique. I feel that I'm different from everyone around me, and my friends always think I'm a fool because "not eating and drinking is so hard, man." But I think spending Ramadan here makes me focus more on the meaning of it: training my soul to control my desires. I also enjoy the prayer gatherings every night and meeting many people from different cultures. In our countries we just pray and return home, but in Japan we have discussions and try to help each other out.
Fasting in Japan — especially in summer — is challenging. The fasting time gets longer, from about 3:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. We have to wake up as early as 3 for sahur (food before fasting). We also don't have lots of choices of food to eat like in my country, Malaysia. Usually, when I feel like eating my favorite food, I search for the recipe on the Internet and cook it myself. But since Ramadan is a time when we should be thinking of the poor and feeling what they feel, we should not eat too much when we break fast.
This is my first experience of fasting in a foreign country. In Japan fasting is easier than in Kyrgyzstan as the climate is not so hot and the day seems shorter. Provided you can find halal food, there's no problem. During the daytime I usually study in a study room or the library at Tsukuba University, where the air conditioners are on constantly. In general, I am happy that I am spending Ramadan among the international community in Japan.
Muhammad Imran Al-Haq
It doesn't make any difference to me during Ramadan if I am in Pakistan, Japan or any other part of the world. Now the world is a global village and I feel no problem observing my religious rites. It's the will that pushes you to do a task, not the environment. Here, living in Tsukuba and actively participating in the Muslim community with people from Arabian countries, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, etc., I enjoy the blessings of Ramadan no less than I used to in Pakistan.
One difficult part of Ramadan in Japan is that my daily schedule has to change a lot, but at the same time I need to keep my study and other commitments unchanged. However, it surprises me every year how much Ramadan helps me organize my life. Japanese always say "It must be difficult," but I think if they were to decide just once to share this experience of fasting and lifestyle change, they would understand why Muslims don't get tired of Ramadan. Ramadan makes me feel fresh and ready to start a new year.