Dubai: A devout Muslim, Pakistani expat Hamza Farooq, 26, starts and ends his day with a prayer, especially during Ramadan.
Hamza, who works as a security guard in one of the residential buildings in Al Barsha, said he wakes up at dawn for keeping fast and then prepares for work and leaves his accommodation at 5am.
This is the fourth year that Hamza is observing Ramadan in Dubai — he first came to the UAE in May 2017 — and he has never missed fasting since he was 13 years old. “We Muslims fast as an act of worship. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and a way to get closer to God as we learn to become more compassionate to those in need,” he told Gulf News.
Like all Muslims, this is also the second year that Hamza is fasting during pandemic. And like everyone, his fervent prayer is for COVID-19 to end. “I pray to God to protect my wife (Hamza got married three months ago) who is in Pakistan; my parents, family, friends, colleagues and the building residents,” Hamza said.
Hamza said fasting must always be accompanied with increased prayer. “I also pray for my own country and the UAE,” he continued, adding: “Our prayers while fasting have special power and meaning as we put our faith and trust in God’s mercy.”
Winning against weight problem
On a physical level, Hamza said fasting also helped him battle weight problems. “Only a couple of years after arriving in Dubai, I gained a lot of weight — because of easy access to food and living a sedentary life,” he noted.
“But I learnt to control my appetite and reduced my weight because of fasting. After last year’s Ramadan, I continued fasting — from June 2020 to February 2021 — at least twice a week and it paid off. From 100.5kg last year, I’m now just 77.5kg,” added Hamza, who stands at 5 feet and 8 inches. “I shed 23kg without going to the gym because of fasting, proper diet and occasional running,” he continued.
Hamza said he has maintained his ideal weight and had never experienced extreme discomfort while fasting at work. “My body has gotten used to it (fasting) and I feel more energetic, unlike before when I was on the heavy side, I sometimes felt tired and exhausted,” he added.
Fasting with friends
Hamza said the one thing he sorely missed during Ramadan was not being with family. “It’s really different when you end your fast with your own family,” said Hamza, adding: “But I’ve learnt to adjust and now I’m OK as I end my fast with friends and housemates who are my second family in Dubai.”
This coming Eid, Hamza will be at work, like in the previous years. But he said he has got used to it. “I will, however, devote more time to call my wife and family and we can greet each other over video chat. We will also pray together and wish each other better health and protection,” he added.