Observing the most challenging Ramadan in decades, British Muslims have started the longest daylight fasting hours in 33 years, with more than 19 hours of fasting daily throughout the holy month.
“We had a taste of this last year, but this year it’s even more challenging,” Ibrahim Mogra, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain told The Guardian.
“But this is all part and parcel of the experience, and most Muslims take it in their stride. Maybe a few more will take advantage of the exemptions available to the elderly, frail and those on medication,” he added.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, kicked off in Britain on Monday, June 6.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
However, pregnant women, children, older people and those who are unwell are exempted from fasting.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
Having only five hours between iftar and Suhour, British Muslims will fast the longest hours during Ramadan.
Muslims in Denmark will have to fast for almost up to 21 hours this year as the sun sets for a mere three-hours daily.
On the other hand, Muslims in Argentina will have the shortest days and would have to fast for 9 hours 30 minutes during the holy month.
“In the Highlands, the light never really goes – it’s dusk, rather than complete darkness. We still have to go about our lives, so it can be tough,” Dr Waheed Khan, of the Inverness Masjid said while speaking about the challenges devotees could face during Ramadan.
“But Muslims are motivated to fast. Thinking about it seems difficult, but doing it is fine,” he added.
London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that fasting “won’t be easy” and said he will miss coffee the most.
The Mayor, a practicing Muslim, said he hoped that the holy month would help “break down the mystique and suspicion” that existed around his religion.
“It is a great opportunity to unite our many diverse communities and faith groups at charitable events and iftars [the post-sunset meal at which Ramadan observers break their fast] across the city,” he added.
Admitting difficulty of fasting this year, due to his busy mayoral schedule, he said that fasting builds empathy inside the community.
“Fasting is a big challenge, and also a great leveller. Rich or poor, Muslims observe the fast together at the same time, and break bread together when the sun goes down. Community fasting is a way of building empathy towards those who are less fortunate,” he said.
“We all have multiple identities — I’m a Londoner, a son and a father — and City Hall isn’t a pulpit.” He added that Ramadan was a “great opportunity” to overcome suspicions about Islam.
“If you’re someone who doesn’t have Muslim friends and your only experience of Islam is what you see on the news — the angry man with a beard doing or saying something terrible —you may inadvertently associate that with Islam and think that is what it’s all about,” he wrote in The Guardian.
“There is a role that Muslims in the public eye play: to reassure people that we are OK … We have the most diverse city in the world, but we don’t have people mixing as much as they could. I want to enable people to have a sense of belonging.”
Khan will be hosting iftars around the city at synagogues, churches and mosques.
At the end of the month there will be a festival in Trafalgar Square to celebrate `Eid.
source : abna24.com