Imagine being on a diet and working at Dairy Queen.

Over the next month, Naseer Khan’s life will be something like that.

He works in a restaurant and is undertaking a religious fast for Ramadan, the Islamic month of spiritual purification.

That means no food or drink goes into his mouth from dawn to sunset. Yet all day long, he’ll be serving food and watching others eat.

No sweat, he says.

“You fast with joy,” said Khan, 40, who works at Hyderabad House, 2225 W. Devon, a restaurant known for lamb and curry dishes.

“Ramadan is about surrendering yourself totally to the almighty,” he added.

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that the first verses of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, were revealed to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan.

Because Islam follows a lunar calendar, the start of Ramadan varies around the world. For many American Muslims, this is their first full fast day.

“God gives us this month to become better people,” said Shakil Ahmed, 54, who runs Bismillah restaurant, 6301 N. Ridge.

Ramadan is a time of penitence and inner cleansing –body and soul, he said. But it’s also a time of increased charity and prayer.

“Christians fast during Lent. Jews fast on Yom Kippur. Everybody does it, but in a different way,” said Nudrat Ashraf, 21, who works at Bismillah.

She says fasting while working in a restaurant awakens her compassion for others.

“It makes me aware of what some people go through on a regular basis,” she said.


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