During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, and devote time to sincere worship.
Fasting in the West poses different challenges: longer hours, people around you eating, and many not being aware of the tradition at all.
According to a Khaleej Times web report, Muslims in Denmark fast for about 21 hours, which is recorded to be the longest among fasting hours across the globe.
On the opposite side of the continuum, Muslims in Argentina fast for 9 hours and 30 minutes – the shortest fasting time recorded this year.
A Californian resident, Samia Nasir said that Muslims in the region fast for about 16 hours and 30 minutes. She adds, the non-Muslims
are shocked as they only keep fasts where they avoid chicken- so even a days fast of ours is surprising to them.
The 22 year old considers fasting in California as less of a challenge “because the people here are very understanding.” She adds that people in her surroundings “are very sweet and respectful” towards the traditions of Islam.
People from other religions are invited to the mosques for Iftar (meal to break the fast) to know more about the Islamic culture.
A Canadian resident, Fatima Riaz said that their fast is about 18 hours long.
The only challenge she faces is the long hours of fasting. “The weather is very pleasant so thirst is not an issue,” she said. Fatima does not get a ‘fish out of water’ feel during Ramadan but she feels a bit uneasy in a food court. The 23 year old said,
It is not familiar for me to have others eating while I’m fasting. I‘ve lived in the UAE before and people never eat in public there.
Fatima adds the amazement that non-Muslims exhibit when they learn that the fast lasts from dawn to dusk.
“They usually assume that we can drink water, it is just the food that we are not allowed to eat. Many look at me from a health perspective and comment that it is a good detox for the body,” she said.
A Finland resident, Kosar Mahmoodi said since the Ramadan this year is during summer, the days are likely to be longer than usual so the fast is for about 21 hours.
She said Muslims in Finland barely have even three hours to eat, drink and prepare for their next fast. Kosar compared the fast in Finland to that in the UAE, where she fasted just for a day on a religious occasion.
The summer in Finland can be compared to the winter of UAE. I fasted one day in UAE and the only thing that makes fasting hard is the thirst. In UAE, the days may be shorter but it’s very hot and the air is heavier than here in Finland.
She thinks that fasting isn’t that difficult for her, it’s just people worry way too much and make a fuss about it.
“I would say that it’s all about the mindset,” she said.
The most common concern that Finns have is “You can’t even drink water? What about a sprinkle of water?”
They consider fasting to be unhealthy. She says Muslims should plan their Iftars very carefully by limiting fried and overly sweet food and in take more nutritious meals.
Do you think you’d survive fasting in the West? Tell us in the comments below.