Fasting for longer: the challenge of Ramadan in Europe

9 July 2013 09:36
EUROPE (QHA) - “Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which a night is better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night,” describes an Islamic hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) about the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a holy month of restraint observed every year by Muslims around the world, when they must refrain from eating, drinking and engaging in sexual activity between sunrise and sunset, Euronews informs. 
But since the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle, the month of Ramadan gets pushed back 11 days every year. Because of this, Ramadan is now shifting from the shorter winter days of fasting to the much longer and warmer summer days.
For Muslims living in European countries and closer to the Arctic circle, Ramadan is becoming more and more challenging every year. In countries like Finland and Norway, the sun sets for barely three hours. That means Muslims have to fast for more than 20 hours, after which they only have a few hours to eat, drink and prepare for another long stretch of fasting.
“The longer hours of fasting is a challenge for me in many ways,” said Yaser Javed, an electrical engineering student in Sweden. “As I am a student and a part-time worker, it gets hard for me to cook for myself, to study and to get my work done while I’m fasting till 9pm.”
Despite the challenges, Javed said he is still motivated to fast because the holy month of Ramadan only comes once a year and is a way for him to strengthen his religious beliefs.
Ibrahim Afridi, a student in Norway, feels the same. “I feel happy and good to see that I am really achieving the goal of self-restraint. What motivates me is that fasting is the only worship which is for Allah alone,” he said.