We arrived back home in the holy month of Ramadan to find a much more subdued world around us. As this was the month of fasting for all Muslims you do not see anyone eating or drinking from dawn to dusk anywhere. The shopping centres only open for minimum purchases during the day, with the evenings being their usual trading hours up until the wee hours of the morning. As non-muslims we of course observed the respectful rule of not eating or drinking in front of anyone during the day, making it quite a different world for us to live in. One morning in desperation Steve and I were to be seen hiding in our car in a car park sipping coffee with our heads ducked low. (you could only buy it to take away in a few places). Nevertheless fasting is not really a time for deprivation, it is a very important spiritual event in any Muslim's life. Fasting for the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is designed to show love, devotion and fear.(of not maintaining a proper attitude towards God).
Here in Doha the evenings come alive as families eat dates before a huge dinner to break their fast together (Iftar) and spend extra time in prayer. This is the time that many families go to Makkah, the last 10 days being the most intense- considered a spiritual retreat time. Of course there is also a wonderful sense of celebration as evening falls, and tents are set up all over the place where you can eat wonderful food, see whirling dervishes and hear live music. Children like to try a day or two without eating, and are very proud when they can manage this.
It is strange being back to normal with coffee shops open and people out and about again.