Abu Dhabi - In the spirit of Year of Tolerance, two Indian expats decided to learn more about Islamic rituals.
Two Dubai-based Hindu friends have developed new-found respect for Muslims and a better understanding of Islamic beliefs during this year's Ramadan.
In the spirit of Year of Tolerance, Indian expat Sajeev Suseelan - a professional for 12 years - decided to learn more about Islamic rituals like praying five times a day, fasting for 30 days, breaking the fast together, etc. And to know things firsthand, he observed the fast during Ramadan and it turned out to be 29 days of spiritual awakening not only for him - but also for his friend, Krilosh Panicker.
"I have lived here for a long time and I wanted to feel what it is like to be a Muslim in this holy month. It sounds simple, but I was curious about their mosque rituals and why they pray five times a day, etc. Now, I have a better understanding of Islamic traditions. I know Muslims rush to pray at mosques as part of their devotion and following the Holy Quran. The fast has changed many things for me - both mentally and physically," said Suseelan, a supervisor at a private firm.
As Suseelan delved deeper into the religion, more myths got shattered.
"Despite spending 12 Ramadan years here, I never realised that we didn't have to be at a mosque compulsorily to break the fast. My Muslim friends told me that I don't need to follow the prayer rituals like they do," he said.
"Fasting was hard for a few days, but then the early morning schedule and rest became a routine. I enjoyed it and felt like it was an accomplishment to manage my regular work while fasting. Even if you pray like Muslims, it's not just spiritual but a physical act, too. At the end, I lost a few kilos and my health improved. Inshallah, I will break my fast next year at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi."
Suseelan's minimalist lifestyle and prudent behaviour inspired Panicker. Initially, Panicker refrained from eating or drinking in front of Suseelan, but he later joined his friend in fasting.
"At first, I thought he won't be able to carry on for long but as days progressed to weeks I noticed him getting more determined. He strictly adhered to the fast and followed a modest lifestyle like sleeping on the floor; zero wastage of food; no feasting; not eating non-veg dishes; reaching out to others; and helping those in need.
Sajeev became a more devoted man, his energy level was infectious, and that change in him inspired me.
"We did it religiously and I really admire my Muslim brothers who observe the fast. The most difficult part is not being able to drink water. Ramadan rituals and traditions are an ultimate act of dedication to God. I will observe 30 days of fast next year," said Panicker, a supervisor at a private firm.
"We feel better as a person. We recommend everyone to fast during Ramadan. It's both spiritually and physically beneficial," he added.