Sunset is just around the corner, and you are at an iftar party, getting ready to break the fast. If you were a non-Muslim observer, you would think the ritual is pretty simple, right? At the appointed time, eat and the fast is broken - voila! Alas! If it was only so simple. Observe.
"So what time is the iftar today?" One uncle asks.
"7.20." The host dutifully answers.
"Are you sure?" Another queries. "Yesterday it was 7.22."
"Well, it's different everyday..." Yet another starts to explain.
"I read somewhere it's 7.15 today." A kid offers, probably hungry.
"I have the paper of timings." The host announces decisively, before triumphantly flashing a flier in front of the crowd. On one side is the advert for the local butcher for chicken legs at 1.49 per pound. On the flip side are the timings, as attested by the local mosque. 7.20 it says. Surely, that is that, you think? Nope, the fun has just begun.
"Only three more minutes." The host announces.
"Surely you are wrong." The first uncle again objects. "My watch has 7.16 now."
"My watch is correct." Says a third. "It's now 7.18."
"I set my watch by 680 news," The host desperately cuts in, "and it's now 7.17."
"680 news!!!" Suddenly an older gent who everyone has ignored till now exclaims in a loud voice. He is usually ignored because he can be trusted to forever interject with politically incorrect comments (usually about Jews), and true to form he doesn't disappoint.
"680 news time is wrong! It's a Jewish conspiracy to make us Muslims break our fast one minute early!"
There is silence for a minute, then the host exclaims, "7.20! It's time. OK I am going."
The sight of him filling his plate with with delicious food is soon too much and everyone joins in, whether is 7.20 by their watch or not.
On to the next debate - the Maghreb prayer - and which direction is REALLY the Qiblah.