The 6 Biggest Culinary Misconceptions Non-Muslims Have About Ramadan

Categories: Arabic Aliments

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Getting ready to get our iftar on

"You can't have anything?"
"Not even water?"
"What if you're really really thirsty and it's super hot outside?"
"Nope, nothing."

That's how the typical conversation goes these days when I mention that I'm fasting for the month of Ramadan, which started on the week of July 8 this month and will end around the week of August. It's quickly followed up by a bewildered stare and the words, "You don't eat for a month?!"

After almost ten years of fasting, I'm still repeating the same lines as always when people ask why I'm not eating or why I look so tired. Of course I don't mind educating my peers about Islam but I'm still shocked when someone doesn't know the basics of Ramadan. Imagine if people didn't know when Christmas was, or why it's celebrated and having to explain it to most everyone you met. So without further ado--and since this is the Weekly's food blog--here are the five culinary biggest misconceptions that I've found non-Muslims have about Ramadan

We don't not eat for a month

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Olive Tree's legendary iftar

We fast from suhoor (dawn) to maghrib (sunset) - which in the U.S. equals to 16 hours - and we do this every day for a month. No food, no water, not even gum. Yet believe it or not, Ramadan often involves eating more than you normally would since every meal is much more significant. When you wake up before sunrise for "breakfast," you know this meal has to hold you over for the next 16 hours. And at the end of those 16 hours, you're rightfully starving, which means food food food.

We also do not stuff our faces the second the fast ends

We don't turn to Kobayashis...much

Your stomach shrinks when you haven't eaten for a long time, so it only takes a little bit of food to fill you up after 16 hours. This is actually sort of unfair, seeing as you're craving a Four-by-Four but at most can fit in a Double-Double. A traditional iftar (dinner) meal is opened with water and a date, followed by a break for the evening prayer. Then we return and share the actual meal (cue the metaphorical stuffing of our faces).

We open our fast at a different time every day

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The sun sets a minute or so earlier every day, so this makes sense, no? You're free to wait a few minutes longer but you'll find me spending some quality time with the water jug. The technicalities of this can get complicated, especially if we're going out to eat or watching a movie around sunset.

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What do terrorists eat before they blow something up?

JGlanton topcommenter

When are we going to have a Ramadan Food Truck?

vegandawg23 topcommenter

This is silly. I had a paki roommate and he'd go on about how difficult it was to fast during Ramadan. Also in grad school there were some lebanese who would say stuff like "you draw on inner strength to help you fast, it good for building mental strength" and other such nonsense. I know tons of people who follow a diet called "intermittent fasting" where they essentially do all year what muslims do for a month. I don't hear them whining about how hard it is. And it's not for some silly sky god either. 


Muslims in high latitude areas usually follow the sunrise/sunset times of Mecca or neighboring cities, since a 20+ hour fast would be dangerous and Ramadan is not meant for hardship.

Yes, metabolism comes to a screeching halt and fasting can limit your attention span, but it also detoxifies your body and helps break the habit of over-eating. As long as you're eating healthy (and eating enough) and not indulging in sweets every night, Ramadan does not have any negative long-term effects.


What about muslims who live at very high latitudes where it only gets dark for a few hours per day.  Do they really go 20+ hours without eating?  Also, any scientific studies on how this affects metabolism, blood sugar etc.?


@CalNewsEditorIRA? Provos? Baader-Meinhof Group?, Red Army?, Propaganda Due?, ETA?, Tupamaros?, Sandinistas? Who do you mean moron?

RocketJ topcommenter

@chorizo Yeah I also noticed the original byline had Gustavo's name not Saba's. I don't think (and will be corrected if wrong) that G could give up the cerdo.

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