THOUSANDS of Muslims across East Lancashire are fasting for the month of Ramadan. Reporter ALIMA NADEEM reveals what it’s like going without food for 18 hours – and more importantly why she is doing it

YOU don’t know sleep deprivation until you observe the month of Ramadan.

Evening prayers start at around 10pm, and take me around an hour and a half, before I can finally go to sleep. But, only to wake up again at 3am, then back to sleep before 4am, and then back up for work at six.

Some days I don’t even bother going back to sleep.

I remind myself though, that my one month of sleep deprivation and hunger is nothing in comparison to the lifetime of struggles of those less fortunate than us.

Despite being hungry for 18 hours, Ramadan is still a special month for me. My family will get closer during this month and spend iftar dinner eating together and sharing meals.

We will usually open the fast with dates and fruit and invite other family members to join us for food like homemade chicken kebabs, onion bhaji’s and samosas.

It’s easy to eat a lot of junk food sometimes, because I can spend all day thinking about it, but so far, I’ve stayed away from oily foods, and even cook the kebabs in the grill.

My days at work can be tough and I often find myself working slower than usual, but I never feel like giving up.

I may be used to it, having observed Ramadan since I was at least eleven, and after doing it for so many years, I’ve learned what not to eat in the morning for the closing of the fast, sehri.

This pre-dawn breakfast is important because you have to go all day on it. I always have a banana, and carb rich foods like bread, because it releases slow energy and that’s going to keep me going all day.

No matter how much you eat though, nothing is going to keep your hunger at bay for over 18 hours. I just remind myself that I am doing it for my faith and to understand the poverty-stricken places, where children die of hunger every day.