During the month of Ramadan, EC English school Cape Town enjoyed a dinner of delicious meals and great company from both students and teachers alike. We participated in “Iftar” which for our Muslim students is the first meal after a day of fasting at the Capetonian Hotel. We invited one of our students Ahmed Daghistani to speak to us about what the dinner means and how we should correctly break our fast. This is what he had to say:
What is Ramadan?
Good evening everyone, first of all, I would like to say that it’s an honour to be here. I’d like to thank Glenn and Anthea for giving me this opportunity to talk about Ramadan. I’ll be explaining to you guys why we fast in this month and the benefits of fasting, and how to break your fast correctly. But first, I need to explain what Ramadan is.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar when we fast from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during the holy month is one of the five pillars of Islam, Which includes prayer and charity. To fast, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in sexual activity from dawn till dusk. The period of fasting changes every year mainly because of the lunar calendar. It’s brought forward 7 days every year, eventually causing Ramadan to occur during any season.
Why is fasting important?
We fast because fasting gives us a better understanding of God’s gifts. It also gives us greater compassion towards the deprived and the people who struggle to find some food to eat or anything drink. If we put ourselves in their shoes, we’ll feel how hard their lives are and start doing something about it.
Even though some might think that fasting is unhealthy, scientific studies have shown so many health benefits. Promoting weight loss and blood sugar control, better brain functioning, cancer prevention, and so many other benefits, but only if you fast in the right way. Some of the people who have tried fasting once or twice think that it’s hard to fast, but it’s harder to break the fast, which means to eat after you’ve finished fasting, even Gandhi once said, “Anybody can fast, But only the wise know how to break his fast”.
How do we break our fast?
In order to break your fast correctly, first start with fruit, like dates for example and a cup of water. After that eat something that isn’t heavy on the stomach like yogurt or soup, and after 5-10 minutes eat whatever you want but don’t eat too much because if you do, you’ll feel so lazy and drowsy afterward. But if you do what I’ve told you, you’ll feel happier, healthier, and more energetic.
Honestly, If there is anyone here who hasn’t tried fasting, I recommend you do. I’m not saying do it for the Muslims. Do it at least to feel how poor people feel. In turn, everybody here will remember how blessed they are and what God has given you. In return, you’ll most likely be like “I want to make their lives better”. So I really recommend you do that.
After the dinner, Chihting Lin wrote about his experience.
I came to Cape Town specifically to improve my English at EC Cape Town. However, I’ve met many friends from different countries who have different cultures and I’d gained plenty of knowledge from them in these three months. My expectations at this school were to help improve my knowledge about English but I was learning much more. I especially learned from those who were in my class. I also did some rewarding activities with the school, which has helped me to understand more about different cultures and religions.
What did I learn?
In this day and age, Muslim people still respect their traditional religion. They continue to follow the rules during the month of fasting, Ramadan. I’ve experienced what is most important to learn for them and what I have learned from it.I was psyched and happy to have enjoyed the first meal with EC English Cape Town and my Muslim friends on one of their days of fasting. That day, all the various groups of religions could follow the tradition – starting to eat and drink after sunset.
I’ve heard from my friends that fasting is not starving. On the other hand, it expresses sacrifice, reflection, rebirth and a return to nature. Learning how to reflect and suffer by starving as well as learning how to be humble. Generally speaking, fasting is the time for Muslims to learn to control themselves and develop their spiritual side.
Although I am not Muslim, in my humble opinion I think that fasting taught me exactly how it would be to be poor. Also, it is a way to cycle between periods of fasting and eating.
On top of that, the Chinese have a saying:
“When you eat your food, you should remember that it is not easy to grow it, remember that every material of your clothing is difficult to produce”.
I hadn’t thought I would meet Muslim people and learn a small part of their culture. It is really special and an amazing experience for me.
To join in on the experience, learn more about EC English Cape Town courses here.