Last week I had the dubious pleasure of flying to Doha, with a lovely Muslim colleague who was fasting. The airport operates pretty much business as usual, so there were hordes of people eating and drinking all around us. They also serve food as normal on the flight. Which is pretty tough when you haven't eaten for almost 14 hours. I managed a bottle of water and a Snickers bar, and still found it hard to keep my rumbling tummy in check. Yet my lovely colleague did not complain once, despite the 50 degree heat, getting lost in a taxi and presenting a full pitch to complete strangers. It was a lesson in patience, right in front of me.
After checking the prayer times online we ascertained that Maghreb fell just as we were boarding the plane. As we scooted towards the gate (always a bit of hysteria when leaving Doha) we saw an amazing sight: groups of people, sat on the floor, sat on chairs, spread out wherever they could find space, breaking their fast together. A really wonderful sight of togetherness.
On arrival in Dubai, the amazing sights continued. This time we'd landed just as Asha prayers began, and so we saw groups of people, deep in prayer, all over the airport. My favourite spot was at the top of the escalators, on a patch of carpet in front of some seats. Just like that, an extremely testing and long day was completely redeemed. Wonderful to see.