by Kholood Eid
Editor's note: Aspiring photojournalist and Gut Check contributor Kholood Eid is chronicling her Ramadan fast in diary form. Click for all Ramadan Diary entries.
This past Friday marked the first of two things: the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, the three-day holiday that follows Ramadan; and the first time I could eat breakfast (with the sun out) in a very long time.
And my, was it glorious.
I approached Friday with a marathoner's mentality, intent on eating to my heart's content all day. I started off with a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit and orange juice for breakfast and really never stopped eating after that, always snacking on a bag of candy or whatever else I could find in my purse. But as grateful as I am to be done fasting, I can't help but wish I'd gotten more out of the experience.
I -- like most other people fasting -- couldn't get food off the mind, but I didn't exactly kick off the month with enthusiasm. While other Muslims were catching up on prayers and devoting themselves to reading passages of the Quran into the wee hours of the morning, I was busy researching menus online and complaining about my constant unwanted companion: hunger.
Still, I was occasionally reminded of the Ramadan spirit when I'd break my fast with family and friends (instead of alone driving home from work), but one night in particular stands out. A group of cousins and friends of all ages began a new tradition this year -- they'd gather at an IHOP or Denny's in St. Charles at about 1 a.m. every Sunday of Ramadan for ishoor (the last meal before each day's fasting begins). I bumbled in to the last meeting in my pajamas and was greeted by a party of about 25 (many of whom turned out to be my younger sister's friends, which meant I was the oldest person there other than their moms).
This wasn't so much about the need to stuff our faces with food at 1a.m. Instead, it was a great reminder of what Ramadan really means (aside from the starving part).
Putting the religious aspect aside (and that's a lot; Ramadan is a very religious holiday), the month is largely about evoking a sense of togetherness, be it among a small family or the local Muslim community or something even larger. In a time of so much divisiveness, it was great to feel unity, even over pancakes in the middle of the night.