Beliefnet

One of the purposes behind Ramadan is to learn what suffering feels like, to experience what those who are hungry do every day. Waking up alone in the early morning hours, by myself, in the dark, to eat a pre-dawn breakfast is not easy. When I fast at my parents' home, I usually have a family member to cajole or entertain me. Or my mother will simply stay up all night to make sure I wake up in time and then make her own version of her mother's feast.

But to fast alone--to fast single--makes the process more alienating than it already is. Eating eggs and burnt toast at 5 a.m., watching a Saudi maulvi recite the Qur'an on cable, is a far cry from the eventful Ramadan gatherings my mother told me about when I was little. Her father forced her and each of her siblings to drink a large glass of water and a banana. His instruction was that, if you were going to fast for the day, these two items were essential, and he would not let any of his children fast without having eaten them.

Ramadan single is perhaps, in a way, reaching a truer meaning of Ramadan. Although families observe Ramadan as a unit, Ramadan is actually not meant to be fun. Ramadan alone is more suffering than Ramadan together. It can make you more sympathetic to the plight of those who are hungry, helpless, and alone. For those who fast the full 30 days with sincerity, great rewards are promised. Hopefully, for my female readers, a mate will be one of them.

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