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How an expat tried fasting and made a new friend

How an expat tried fasting and made a new friend

Stephan Hutt from Germany says while his Muslim friends are driven by faith to fasting, he is driven by the friends.



By Silvia Radan/staff Reporter

Published: Mon 29 Jun 2015, 1:29 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:16 PM

Abu Dhabi - Stephan Hutt considers himself a ‘newbie’ in Abu Dhabi. He left his home in Germany to move here three months ago with his family.

“It was a good job opportunity and I have no regrets so far,” said the financial consultant.

He feels settled in his beautiful villa with a small garden and a swimming pool, but he is still finding his way around Abu Dhabi’s lifestyle. That lifestyle took a 180-degree shift during the holy month of Ramadan.

“I’ve asked around what people do during Ramadan and what are usually the dos and don’ts, but to fully experience it is quite a different ball game,” said Hutt.

During the first week of the holy month, he managed to find quiet corners for a sip of water and cafes opened for lunch behind blacked out windows. Last Tuesday, he got an Iftar invitation.

“I have a few Emirati colleagues at work and one of them hosted an Iftar ... at his home. I think I was the only non-Muslim invited,” he said. “I asked my Emirati colleagues whether I should bring a gift for the host and they said the best gift I could offer, which would be most sincerely appreciated, is if I was fasting that day.”

Hutt decided to give it a go. On Monday night, he had a bigger than usual dinner and from Tuesday morning he began his fast.

“The first big challenge was not having a (cup of) coffee in the morning; it made me feel rather moody. Then, by 11am, my throat felt so parched that I found it difficult even to speak,” said Hutt.

“I was more and more tempted to give up, but I kept watching my fasting colleagues around me and I felt inspired. If they can do it, so can I!”

In the early afternoon, he began feeling sleepy and dizzy, but by then he was determined not to break his fast.

“I managed to sleep for a couple of hours later in the day, but still when I arrived at my colleague’s house just before Iftar, he said I looked really tired. I told him I was not tired, but I was fasting that day,” said Hutt. “He was really surprised and happy. He shook my hand and was nearly moved to tears. That day I gained a friend!”

The challenge and the reward of fasting left a deep impact on Hutt. All of a sudden, his Muslim colleagues were not just nice and polite, but he felt a special bond with them; a bond that kept growing since Hutt decided to fast for the entire month of Ramadan.

“I know they are driven by faith and social dictates, but I am driven by them, and that is strong too,” said Hutt. “It’s not easy, you definitely feel the hunger and the thirst, but I think the real challenge is a psychological one,” he said. -silvia@khaleejtimes.com


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