TAYLOR (CBS DETROIT) – For some Muslims, fasting from dawn to sunset every day during the month of Ramadan can be a little more challenging than it is for others.
As co-owner of Peepo’s Subs and Shawarma in Taylor, Mahmoud Elhassan works over a hot stove and makes subs along with other dishes, for sometimes 12 hours, all while he’s fasting. So for him, there’s no avoiding food — even on a growling, empty stomach.
Elhassan says when Ramadan starts, the first couple of days are the hardest; but he adds that the real challenge is the water.
“It’s not all about the food. I mean the food looks good, it smells good. We just can’t wait to go home and eat. Making the food is just a normal thing. But the water is a big thing, because we get tired,” Elhassan told WWJ’s Zahra Huber.
So what keeps Elhassan going? He says it’s all about his faith.
“The reason behind fasting is to undergo and feel what the less fortunate are going through; the ones that don’t have the money or the opportunity to have water or food. So to think about them is what pushes me and keeps me going throughout the day,” said Elhassan.
Sunset, when Muslims break fast, is as late as 9 p.m. in some part of the U.S., including Michigan, and sometimes Elhassan has to stay late to finish serving customers and close up shop. That means he may have to fast even longer than he needs to.
“It’s hard but waiting a couple extra minutes or fasting a little extra time is not a big deal for me. To wait a half hour, 40 minutes, an hour max. After the hour I’ll go crazy,” joked Elhassan.
Customers like Dominic Waza Scicluna respect what Elhassan does.
“The dedication that they have to put in to be around food all day long and then they only get to eat late at night, I couldn’t do that myself I don’t think,” said Scicluna.
Despite a diverse customer base, there is a downturn in business at Peepo’s.
“During Ramadan, a lot of the Muslims don’t come here any more because they’re fasting and it has not been as great as it was before. So we just can’t wait until Ramadan is over to get back on track,” said Elhassan.
In the end though, Elhassan says it’s all worth it.
“I look forward to going home and gathering with the family. Because this is probably the only month of the year where everyone gets together every day, every night to have a meal.”