The Muslim ritual fast runs from 15 October to 14 November this year and ends with the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr. It's an Arabic tradition, when the pious retreated for asceticism and prayer, and it precedes the Prophet Mohammad.
My British-born Bangladeshi friend has had a few days off, though. These have been tough days for her, made more difficult by the fact that even water is not allowed during daylight hours. She works all day in a science lab and has no Muslim friends where she lives in Cambridge. So she has taken this week off to return to London and fast more easily with her family.
Smoking, sex, swearing, gambling, thinking evil thoughts and quarrelling are also forbidden. The latter two are particularly difficult for my friend to avoid now she is temporarily living under her parents' roof!
The Christian Science Monitor has an entertaining Ramadan diary series chronicling a Saudi Arabian woman's first fast:
"Iftar, or the breaking fast, when it finally arrives each day after the call to evening prayers, is lavish. Star-studded Egyptian soap operas are scheduled one after the other for prime-time Ramadan viewing, right after iftar, when people are usually too full to move. And with an eye toward the following day's deprivation, most people stay up, snacking until dawn."
Other links today:
+ "What if you live on the East coast and all the organic produce is shipped from California - how do you compare buying that to buying locally and supporting a farm which may be using pesticides but is helping to preserve the rural landscape closer to home?" The labyrinthine world of ethical eating.
+ "My prerogative right now is to just chill & let all the other overexposed blondes on the cover of US Weekly be your entertainment ... GOOD LUCK GIRLS!" Britney is taking another break. Hurrah!