The day begins with my alarm ringing at 3.30 am. It’s time for the first meal of the day (suhoor). I walk to the kitchen, turn on the radio and listen out for the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) alerting me to the beginning of the fast.
I usually have about 15 minutes to eat and drink as much as I can. After the adhan I will have neither food nor water until the sun sets at around 8.30 pm.
After eating I wash (wudu – ritual ablution) and pray. Then it’s back to bed to try, and most often fail, to get some sleep. I’m woken at 7.00 am either by my alarm or a child. I need to get ready for court and possibly drop the children at school on my way. On a good day my journey to court is uneventful. On a bad day it is hot, I run for my train, sweat profusely in the carriage and sweat some more at court as I realise I will not be able to drink anything for the next 11 hours.
The court day passes as any other. Some colleagues are aware I am fasting and offer sympathy – “You poor thing”, amazement – “Not even water?!” or anecdotes “I did that on a yoga retreat once and hallucinated”. Most of my colleagues and friends are scrupulously kind and try not to eat or drink in front of me. So much of the job is fuelled by adrenaline that fasting seems to make little difference. Occasionally, during a speech or cross examination I unconsciously reach for a cup of water, remind myself and put it back down.
After court I head home and make up any prayers I have missed. I spend an hour or two preparing my case for the following day. As evening approaches everything seems to slow down. I try to read about the prophet Muhammad’s life (Peace Be Upon Him), spend time with my children or go for a walk to distract me from my hunger and thirst.
Around 8.15 pm I turn on the radio to listen to the evening call to prayer. As it sounds my wife and I break our fasts with dates and water followed by our evening meal (iftar). We sit around and discuss our day after which it’s time for the evening prayers and an early night when possible.
Most of the year religion is not the focus of my life, but during Ramadan my faith takes centre stage. Prayer, charity and kindness are as much part of this month as fasting. But, the fasting makes me reflect more on these aspects of my faith. For me and many others it is a time for much needed realignment. Ramadan gives me a sense of perspective. I feel at peace.
Written by a barrister at Red Lion Chambers.