Fuel – The start of Ramadan

9/7/2013 |

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After a few days of eating the optimum productivity diet, I’m trying something completely different for the next 3 days.  It’s the start of Ramadan, and I’m going to join Muslims in the UK and around the world in fasting.

On a superficial level, the question I’m seeking to answer is “how does a lack of food affect productivity?”.  And I know my friend Mohammed and the team at ProductiveMuslim are watching this one with interest to see how the UK productivity ninja approaches something they do every year, and for a whole MONTH at a time.  He thinks I’ll bring new answers in my three days.  I’m not so sure, but certainly I’ll bring a fresh beginner’s perspective.

It’s only for three days, but hopefully it will be an interesting part of the month’s ‘Fuel’ experiment – and an interesting personal experience in itself.  Having spent a few years living in East London in a predominantly Muslim area, I must say I know embarrassingly little about Islam.  The last few days reading up about Ramadan, it’s meaning to Muslims and the rituals and practices around it has been fascinating.

I’m going to be blogging my experiences each evening during this 3 days of fasting.  I’ll be trying to lead a normal-ish routine and work7 - fuel-03 in the office on Wednesday, then on Thursday I’ll be working from home so will let my energy guide my working hours (day and night!).  And then on Friday I’ll be out and about in London doing a couple of meetings and things.

Finally, I’m not a religious person, but I believe passionately that a multi-cultural society makes our experience of life all the richer.

It feels slightly odd and very sad that in 2013 I even feel the need to write that last sentence, but when the media give people like Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson and Nick Griffin such a disproportionate amount of airtime, it’s little wonder that hatred and the scapegoating of minorities such as Muslims follows.

Unfortunately, I know none of that will change by me fasting for 3 days or by me writing a blog.  I will also have the privilege of talking about my fasting as a white guy doing something slightly quirky by way of experimentation rather than having to explain or excuse it as my faith and fear prejudice.

But nevertheless it feels like we all have a duty to approach what we don’t know or understand with a spirit of openness and enquiry, rather than with the hatred or fear that the media and politicians would prefer.  And we all have a duty to ensure our words and deeds embody this.  You’ll have your own opportunities to do this, but for now this is mine.  I know you don’t really need this reminder, but we both probably know people that do.  And it feels like we’re in an era where even the ‘basics’ are no longer just taken as read and need reiterating.

So I’m approaching this tiny experience with the intention of experimenting and learning, with the intention of keeping an open mind and with the intention of keeping an open heart.

And most probably I’ll be approaching it with a rumbling stomach too.

Ramadan Mubarak!


  1. [Productivity Ninja] Fasting Experiment: Ramadan Day 1 - Productive Muslim

    […] us to fast during the first three days of Ramadan. To know more about this experiment, you can read the introduction here. In this series, he shares his reflections regarding fasting and productivity based on this […]

  2. Nazneen

    Hi Graham,

    I think you’re very open-minded and I wish you the best of luck with fasting.
    Just read your article on finishing your 1st day of fasting! Well done and I’m sure all the ProductiveMuslim and thinkproductive readers are all with you – all the best and hopefully you will be rewarded by God for fasting. Can’t wait to read about your 2nd & 3rd days of fasting! 😀

  3. saima ahsan

    Go for it!!!
    If more people thought like you I think we would be a much more cheery society rather then all this scaremongering and painting muslims as big bad bogeymen (or women!)thats going on!!

    But some adivce for the fasts..lots of fresh air!

    These fasts are amazing, I know I was worried before they started as I work long shifts, and wasnt quite sure how I would cope, but its quite an achievement and you should be proud of yourself when you get there..fasting makes you wonder..wow if i can do this..i wonder what else i am able to achieve?!
    (well thats been one little lesson i learnt past three days!!)
    Insha’Allah hope it goes well!!!

  4. graham

    Nazneen – thank you! I suffered yesterday thru a lack of fresh air, but funny how the headaches seem to get lesser as the body gets more used to it.

    Saima – Thank you. It’s really quite sad that I even have to address the issue of prejudice in 2013… seems like the world is going backwards at the moment. All we can do is push curiosity and respect as much as certain media outlets push their bogeyman rubbish (and bogeywomen rubbish!).

  5. [Productivity Ninja] Fasting Experiment: Ramadan Day 3 - Productive Muslim

    […] us to fast during the first three days of Ramadan. To know more about this experiment, you can read the introduction here. In this series, he shares his reflections regarding fasting and productivity based on this […]


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