(Warning: Last pre-Ramadhan indulgence in biting satire ahead...)
As we embark on our blessed and holy month of Ramadhan, I thought I'd share these top tips for observing the fast in the most khaleeji way possible, and really entering into the spirit of things. Here we go then, the TLS "magnificent seven" top tips for observing Ramadhan like a real GCC-dweller:
1. You will need a large bank loan, preferably one you can't afford to pay back - don't worry, you can go to court as often as you like but nothing bad will happen (N.B. might need to be more careful if you're foreign). The important thing is to maximise the showing off, and at the same time sign up to a whopping great haram interest-bearing loan, just to show that Ramadhan really is becoming the "Muslim Christmas". Don't let those westerners think they have a monopoly on capitalist lust dressed as religion now! It's your duty to out-consume the heathen!
2. Don't tell your business partners, customers or coleagues to expect any change in your working hours or performance: Imagine their delight as they try repeatedly to contact you while you attend your office for only two hours in the evening to play 'minesweeper'. Don't spoil the surprise either by telling them that as well as doing nothing for the whole month, you will reward yourself with a ten day holiday for the three day Eid at the end of it. Inconsiderate? Ha! If they're expecting you to work they're probably just infidels anyway...
3. Remember - fasting is for the poor! Anyone who's anyone simply sleeps in the day and stays up all night (a good way to avoid some of that tedious praying too). And it's essential to eat twice as much as you normally would - and don't forget the extra fat and lots of sugar (especially given your sedentary lifestyle, obesity and genetic predisposition to diabetes). Ramadhan is the month of multiple desserts. Don't be shy now, get that crash weight-gain program started. Month of fasting? Hahaha...how would you manage your prodigious eating feats during Eid if you didn't have a month of intensive glutton-training first?!
4. Forget everything you ever learned about safe motoring - yes, even those of you who had to learn to drive properly when taking 15 years to do a 3 year undergrduate degree in the US! Not only does God love you more in Ramadhan, so do the ROP. Normal rules do not apply, traffic lights are red merely to warn others that you are about to drive through them. And don't forget to be inconsiderate to your fellow motorist, and drive especially dangerously within one hour of Iftar: Yes, you really are suddenly more important than everyone else on the road, especially if you used your new bank loan (see above) to buy a Lexus (or Hilux if your beard is over 6 inches long). Don't worry about the others you cut up and run off the road - they must be kuffar, or they'd be driving like you.
5. Spoil your children. Extra lessons in being rude and disrespectful to adults will be required. They may wish to practice their skateboarding in the supermarkets, and calling the housemaid a b*tch. Older children will also beat the housemaid. This is more fun if done in public to increase the humiliation. Now buy the kids everything they want with money you haven't got, and let them eat sweets until they vomit. They will break their new toys within a week, so best give them some cash too, and encourage them to beg at all the neighbours' houses. But most of all, teach them that greed is good, and to thank God they're not Indonesian and cleaning your bathroom.
6. Charity begins at home! So Ramadhan is an excellent excuse for delaying your employees' pay by at least a month. Blame the bank - the employees won't believe you, but they won't argue if they want to be paid! Oh no! Demonstrate to the infidel the true generosity of the Creator by giving yourself only an hour in the office per day, while asking him to work extra hours and cover for your lazy butt. And if you don't have the cash to pay, hey, faith comes first right? And what kind of Believer would you be if you paid people what you owed them instead of booking the Eid holiday in Thailand as a dedication to the Almighty? Allahu Akram!
7. Students: Forget studying - even if your tutors show up, they will remember to mark you extra leniently as they understand the important religious devotion you have been giving by watching soap operas on LBC until 5am. If you are studying abroad, don't forget to play your "Muslim sensitivites" card. No-one will dare tell you that you're a lazy waste of oxygen when you sleep all day, they wouldn't want to be labelled as "enemies of Islam" now would they?! When asked why you are late/asleep/talking to Fatima on your cellphone in class, simply sigh and reply "you don't understand my religion/culture/who my father is". This also works perfectly well in Oman as long as your tutor is Indian.
WARNING: There are some of your fellow Muslims who might think differently to you and really try to spoil your
Christmas Ramadhan completely. Some of them will even suggest that if you're asleep all day you're not fasting, and that Ramadhan is a month of religious reflection and self-restraint leading to spiritual and physical purification. They will only bore you by going to bed early, praying, getting up for work in the morning, and declining the fifteenth portion of Basboosa. If you do accidentally bump into one, just laugh and say "ma3lesh".... and remember, you drive a Lexus because God made you special.....