What It's Like Fasting 14 Hours For The First Time As A Non-Muslim In Australia


Mardhiah Haslan •  Mar 31, 2023

Hello, let me introduce myself! I'm Samuel, and I'm a 20-year-old Retail Assistant residing in Melbourne, Australia ? As a non-Muslim, I had never considered fasting as a viable option for myself. The idea of not consuming any food or water for 14 hours seemed daunting and uncomfortable. However, I decided to challenge myself and experience fasting for the first time as I had a Singaporean Muslim friend who is fasting for a month and wanted to see if I could actually succeed ? My fasting period was from 5:49AM to 7:28PM, following the Ramadan 2023 calendar that I found for Melbourne!

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Credit: Samuel

Before starting my fast, I did some research on fasting and what it means for Muslims around the world. When I read that Muslims cannot drink water during Ramadan, I was surprised and worried that I couldn’t survive the day ? Additionally, I read that eating enough protein and drinking a lot of water could help make fasting throughout the day easier ? While most of my research recommended me to eat dates together with my pre-dawn meal, it was pretty tough to find them in my neighbourhood so I had to go without it ?

Credit: Samuel

Waking up early before sunrise to eat my pre-dawn meal was not difficult for me as I’m accustomed to waking up early for work. I had a bowl of cereal, a leftover hamburger, and a cup of instant coffee, along with a whole 600ml bottle of water and a sports drink. Although not the healthiest breakfast, I wanted to consume as much as I could so that I would be ready for the day ahead ?

Credit: Samuel

To kickstart my day, I had to travel to my hometown in the morning to visit my relatives and the sweltering weather was the start of the challenges ? Throughout the day, I had to deal with fatigue, a minor stomach ache, and the social aspect of watching others eat in front of me. It was a little uncomfortable being surrounded by food when fasting but somehow I managed to pull through it ?

Credit: Samuel

The hunger, thirst, and tiredness started hitting me around 1-2 pm, while I was watching cricket with my family. I was parched for most of the day as I had to speak a lot in addition to the hot weather, and I felt emotionally exhausted. Despite these challenges, I was determined to see it through to the end as I had only a couple more hours to go!

Credit: Samuel

After the small family reunion, I had to drive back home to break my fast and for some reason, the drive felt longer than it should have been ? At one point, I was too fatigued to continue driving so I had to switch with my sister and rest in the backseat! When I finally reached home, I was almost in time to break fast and once the clock strikes 7:28PM, I could finally feed into my hunger and thirst ?‍?

Credit: Samuel

Breaking my fast at the end of the day was a much-awaited moment. My sister ordered KFC, and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the crispy fried chicken as I was so hungry! I also had a glass of Pepsi and a full 1.25L bottle of water (believe me, I needed it!) It felt like a relief when I finally had food and water in my system and I felt my mind finally able to think clearly ?

While fasting for the first time did not change my perspective on food and its importance in my life, it did make me realise the importance of water ? Being out and about without anything to drink made me feel parched for most of the day. While I respect Muslims around the world who manage to fast for the whole month, I personally would not do it again as consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time to feel functional throughout the day in addition to the thirst was challenging for me.

On the other hand, now that I have experienced fasting, it has made me feel extremely grateful that I (and many others) have the luxury of drinking clean water and access to proper meals ? Yet again, I admire those who fast for religious reasons and commend their strength and willpower!