Friday, August 17, 2012

Ramadan Fasting in the U.S. - Challenging and Mentally Exhausting for a First-timer

Ramadan fasting in the U.S. is a huge challenge to the participating individual - spiritually rewarding, but mentally exhausting, especially for a visitor.  Coping with the time difference for fast breaking, and finding "appropriate" food within   a short distance can be a daunting task, depending on where the individual is lodging in town.  As a regular traveller to the United States, this year's Ramadan is my third experience.  My first experience fasting in the U.S. was in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1994.  There, I was very lucky to meet Imam Yahya Hendi, who introduced me to the Muslim Community Center, very close to my hotel, where Muslim brothers and sisters worshiped and shared Iftar food with everyone who showed up at the mosque.

I was not so lucky on my second experience, which occurred in Washington during a training trip in 2005 because the distance between my hotel in Arlington, Virginia and the closest Islamic Center located in Washington, D.C. was far, and cousins who wanted so much to invite me to their homes for Iftar, but had to break their own fast at work.  I was therefore left with the only choice of finding a Halal Restaurant, or indulging in cooking after a long, exhaustive day of training, dehydration and low sugar level.

U.S. Army Maj. Dawud A. Agbere, center,
leads other assigned Muslim Soldiers in
prayer as they prepare for the
beginning of Ramadan
U.S. Army Photo by Steven Hoover 
A similar scenario is playing out this year on my third Ramadan experience in the U.S., and when my daughter sent me a short email two days ago stating, "you must be missing Mum's kunu and kosai," it made me realize how much I miss home during the fasting period.  Kunu and kosai are the most popular food items for fast breaking in most Nigerian homes.  It is the cheapest delicacy that you could easily find anywhere in Nigeria, especially northern cities, but I am yet to find them, to really quench my thirst, after a long day of fasting.  Fast breaking is not really the same for me without my favorite kunu and kosai.  Makes me home-sick, and to realize how powerful and mentally tasking finding the "appropriate" food can be for Muslim visitors to the United States, especially those who are not staying close to any Islamic Center or have relatives who can host them at Iftar.  I miss my kunu and kosai.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it's really hard to alter your diet that instant. I hope this Ramadan 2013, all of those who will fast be safe and be blessed. Ramadan Mubarak!