The Last Ten Minutes

.We are now three weeks into the Holy Month of Ramadan, and I can confirm with conviction  that the most active times in the fasting Muslim’s day are those ten minutes before the evening call to prayer أذان المغرب . Weather that person is planning to break his/her fast at home, in a restaurant, or at a family member or friend’s house, the results are the same. Rush, panic and drama are the order of the day for ten minutes, namely those last ten minutes of the fasting day .

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If the fasting Muslim is on the road during these ten minutes, he is probably driving at full speed. After all, he just has one goal on his mind and that is to make it to the designated destination in time to eat. He really doesn’t care about how many red lights are run, how many pedestrians are honked at, or how many people  are made to escape the near death experiences that his reckless driving puts them through.  In these last ten minutes this driver sees nothing, hears nothing, and fears nothing from the world around him. He just wants to be seated at the table  with spoon in hand and ready  to consume food the minute he hears the evening call to prayer.

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In homes, these last ten minutes of the fasting day see kitchens filled with people. Someone would be frying,  heating  or baking something in these last ten minutes. Someone else would be rushing to fill the soup bowls with soup, the water glasses with water, and the juice glasses with juice. A third person is emptying food into serving bowls, while aimlessly throwing empty pans into a sink that is overflowing with dishes to be washed. Someone  else is  carrying hot bowls of food to the table, and someone is mixing the salad against the angry instruction of the lady of the house. I say “angry instruction’ because the lady of the house, in these last ten minutes, begins to panic and in her state of panic she has the power to shout instructions to the people helping her, and her instructions sound more intricate then those given to a surgeon performing an open heart surgery.

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In these last ten minutes the kitchen  counters and sink start to look like they have been hit by a hurricane, but no one cares. Everyone just wants to eat on time.

In the background , the sheikh on TV, reading versus of the Holy, Quran are heard from all corners of the house. The channel everyone is tuning to is JTV, as the aim is to eliminate all margins of error. Muslims just feel during these last ten minutes that they need to hear the call to prayer straight from JTV, even if they live right next to a mosque . So,  JTV probably gets more views during the last ten minutes of the fasting day than it does at any other time of the year.

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Meanwhile, the panicking lady of the house  may be having a meltdown because she realized that the water cooler needs to be filled with a new bottle of water, or the soup is cold, or because God Forbid someone forget to add the plate of green olives to the table. This would never be a good time to pretend that such issues are not a big deal. If you have a death wish, try telling the lady of the house that they are not a big deal. You are better off just agreeing that they are a big deal because they may make the family miss the deadline to eat. Fights erupt over such issues as people become more tense and their reactions more intense during these last ten minutes of the fasting day.

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In restaurants, these last ten minutes see fasting Muslims queuing up at the buffet. They start filling up their plates with food at full speed. They pile different salads on top of each other, as this is no time to be picky. They rush to their tables, put the salad plate there then rush back to the buffet to stack up on main dishes. They too have a game plan, a plan to put as much food on the plate as it is humanly possible during the last ten minutes of the fasting day . They too want to be at the table with spoon in hand and ready to consume food the minute they hear the evening call to prayer from JTV.

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Those invited to an Iftar at a relative or friend’s house, usually make their grand entrance during these last ten minutes of the fasting day. They greet the lady of the house who is frying something last minute and the ladies who are invited join the lady in the house in the kitchen to put things on the table on time. Her kitchen too starts to look like it has been hit with a hurricane. She affirms that she doesn’t need help while in reality she does because she too doesn’t want to miss the deadline to eat and those invited don’t want to miss the deadline to eat either.

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So whether we are rich,  poor, young, or old, we all unite as one community during the last ten minutes of the fasting day. We all work full force to be ready for that one goal  “to eat”. We all share the same idea, the same sentiment, and the same wish. We all want to break our fast on time. Together, our moods shifts from panic to calm in a matter of seconds, as the once crowded streets empty, the once crowded kitchens empty, and the tables fill with family, friends, and acquaintances side by side eating together in that same moment in time at the evening call to prayer and only after the last ten minutes of panic during the fasting day. So if we are able to come together this way for ten minutes and if we are able to unite to eat can’t we unite for other fulfilling purposes too? This is food for thought.

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