One of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar is the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it has a huge impact on all of society. Working hours and opening times of shops and sites are adjusted, and families and communities draw together in fasting and feasting.
Aside from the religious aspects and the actual fasting, Ramadan is also all about family. If you ask any Luxorian what s/he likes best about Ramadan, it will be the breaking of the fast with their (extended) family. People also often invite friends round for ‘iftar’, the break-fast. It is a very social experience. The days are very quiet and the city comes back to life in the evenings.
Here in Luxor, sunrise is around 03.45 am at the moment. That means that most people will start to eat their last meal before fasting from around 02.00 am. This meal is called ‘suhoor’ and you can eat whatever you want right up until the ‘fagr’, the sunrise call to prayer. After that, nothing at all may be consumed until sunset, which is around 18.30 pm here right now.
The mosque warns about 20 minutes ahead, and kids will set off fire-crackers (mostly for the fun of it, but officially to warn people that the time to eat is coming). Then, the mad rush starts to get home to the family before the actual sunset occurs.
The weather here is hot, so it is a long and hard fast, but most people take it as normal – even though tempers can sometimes flare. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramadan shifts forward in the common calendar year by 10 days every year, so slowly, slowly, better/shorter fasting days are coming, but not yet. Right now, Ramadan is hot and heavy…