Edmonton, 13 Ramadan 1437/17 June 2016 (MINA) – For Muslims in Edmonton, Canada, Ramadan brings a special challenge this year, as it falls during the long, long days of spring.
During the month-long occasion, which started June 7, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. No food or drink, even water, is allowed. Every night, the fast is broken with a feast.
There are exceptions for children, the elderly, those who are ill, pregnant, nursing or menstruating, and for people travelling, which can include athletes during tournaments.
Ramadan is intended to bring people closer to God and remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
Edmonton’s long spring days can make fasting difficult, said Mona Nashman-Smith, CEO of the Edmonton Islamic Academy.
“It’s really hard,” she added with a laugh. “I think for the first week the biggest challenge we face is people are just tired because not only are they not allowed to eat, they’re not allowed to drink anything. You can imagine the dehydration that takes place and the lack of concentration students will encounter because they don’t have the sustenance to keep going.”
Students at the academy have two fewer hours of school during Ramadan.
“There are no recesses. There are no lunch breaks. We redesigned our schedule so students arrive to school at 9:30 and leave at 2:30.”
Over the years, Ramadan, which is determined by the lunar calendar, has been moving earlier in the calendar. In 2012, it started July 20, when there were 16 hours and 16 minutes of daylight. In 2020, when Ramadan will start April 24, there will be 14 hours and 40 minutes of daylight.
Yunus Halloomi, 8, agrees that it can be difficult to observe Ramadan.
“It’s kind of hard. When it’s hot, you’re really hungry but you can’t [eat],” the Grade 2 student said.
Ramadan can also be a challenge for those who play sports, such as the flag football team at the Edmonton Islamic Academy.
Zaynab Pathal, 14, said it is a matter of staying strong in her faith.
Iman Mohamed, 12, uses the game as a distraction from the heat, hunger or thirst.
“It just depends sometimes on the weather as well,” she said. “If it’s cold, maybe it’s not as hard as when it’s hot.
“When your head is in the game, you don’t really think about anything else but the sport and I guess that just helps me.”
Mohamed said it is helpful that Ramadan is only a month long.
“It’s not like we’re going to do that for the rest of our life. I guess, just put your heart into it.”(T/R04/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)