Ramadan is a Muslim practice held on the 9th month of every Islamic calendar. During this 29 or 30 day period, fasting is obligatory among the healthy adults and women who are not pregnant, lactating, or going through their monthly period.
The period of fasting is from the time the sun rises to the time the sun sets so technically, eating, drinking, smoking, and having sex takes place at night or when it’s dark.
Many Muslims have to endure the tempting aromas and flavors of street food especially in cities like New York and the many Muslims who sell street food in the Big Apple. According to some, they are accustomed to avoiding food this time of year so it doesn’t really bother them, while others just avoid the food carts and kiosks just to stay away from the temptation. In a recent survey done on 38,000 Muslims, more than 93% claim to fast during the day. In fact, they are very religious about avoiding any kind of liquid or food but not as serious as the other practices like to annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Muslims are generally steadfast in observing their practices although this year, doctors have begun to advice eating street to avoid halal food that are vulnerable to heat. For example, shawerma, kibda and balila are popular Ramadan street food but they can be susceptible to salmonella, e-coli, and staphylococcus especially in countries where the heat can be unbearable and the food sold is close to polluted areas. For instance, in New Jeddah Clinic Hospital in Saudi Arabia, there have been multiple cases of food poisoning and illness from eating food that was prepared hours before being consumed.
Are there Muslims who do not follow this practice? The only Muslims who do not follow the fasting practice during Ramadan are those who do not practice their religion. Surprisingly, many Muslims tend to gain weight during the Ramadan period because they rely on sweets to see through the day. The good news about halal street food is that they are usually available all hours of the day and into the early evening. As long as one buys from a food truck or kiosk that doesn’t sell stale halal food, there should be no problem or risk of getting gastritis or any other bacteria-related illness.