Sunday, July 3, 2016

Which fast is the hardest: Muslim or Christian?

In countries such as Lebanon, where it is not unheard of to have a colleague, friend or even neighbor from a different religion or sect, not to mention at times spouse - there is a debate which (let's call a spade a spade) "rages" in between the (at times so called) faithful:
Which fast is the most difficult? The Muslim or Christian fast?
Let's explain the technicalities:
Muslims fast throughout the month of Ramadan which changes date yearly, and do so from sunrise to sunset - if it falls during winter and the days are short, you're in luck, if it falls in summer, you've really had it bad.
Christians fast in the period before Easter from midnight till noon.
So here are the most used arguments from either side:
Christians say:
But you guys (Muslims, that is) can wake up for your suhur (which is the pre-dawn breakfast they are allowed to take before sunrise), we (as Christians) are not even allowed to have anything after midnight.
Our fast is longer (technically, 40 days even if it tends to change with + or - 1 day according to the calander but few Christians notice that).
The originall fast is vegan, this needs to be mentionned.
Muslims say:
Yes, even with the very early suhur, try lasting a full day till sunset with not water or food.
And even if shorter, our fast is more stringent.
By the way, you can pick and choose what to abstain on since the "vegan" thing is so depassé.
We get to observe other people eating which we fast, so try enduring that (this does not happen in countries such as Saudi Arabia for example, where even the non-fasting people are not allowed to eat in public or most of the time - being served food in restaurants before the iftar time).
And on the debate goes, with each one pulling the blanket to its side. I have had arguments from Christian students wanting to cut class short "because we are fasting" and Muslim students being so inactive during class, for the same reason. Naturally, colleagues use it as an excuse for mistakes and people in general tend to go deep in the frivolity of it as opposed to the essence.
As a full disclosure, I tried fasting myself but unfortunately it coincided with two very high spikes of my diabetes, so eventually I dropped and continued being the best human being I can be - which is not something I can sadly apply to all the other supposedly faithful ones who actually observe their fasting but toss their goodness out of the window.
Fasting above all, is a personal dialogue between the faithful and what they term as their own God, let's quit bragging about it and comparing it across religions.

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