People fast for 16 hours a day in Kurdistan
Due to the hot weather and the length of the daily fast, many people choose to stay at home during the day and go to work at night
Ramadan has fallen in the height of summer this year. It started on July 10, and average temperatures over the next month are high—usually between 44 and 50 degrees Celsius in the Kurdistan Region.
The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar—rather than the solar—cycle. As a result, the start date for Ramadan moves forward by roughly 11 days a year, meaning that the month began in December a decade or so ago. Of course, while the sun sets, and fasters can eat again, before 5 p.m. in the depth of winter, sunset does not occur until 7:30 p.m. at this time of year.
The Ministry of Health has issued instructions for those fasting during Ramadan, advising people to avoid eating sweet, hot, greasy food, and to prefer soups and light meals, especially when breaking their fast at the Iftar (Sunset). Anyone with a chronic disease is advised to consult their doctors.
Although it is very tough to fast for over 16 hours on the hottest days of the year, many people in Kurdistan do not eat or drink during daylight hours for the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan.
Ismail Nadir, 61, says that while it is common for people to say they will not to be able to fast during Ramadan, when the month actually starts, almost everybody manages to do it.
“I have got through the days when we have to fast for over 16 hours. I know it is tough, but fasting is obligatory in Islam and I am sure God gives people the courage to endure the difficult conditions,” said Nadir, who works as a tailor in Erbil’s downtown market
Because of the hot weather and the length of the daily fast, many people stay at home during the day and go to work at night.
Sayed Nawaf, for example, is 40 and works as a car deal- er. He changed his working hours when Ramadan began, opting to sleep during the day and go to work a few minutes after breaking his fast in the evening.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reduced the working day for public-sector workers during Ramadan.
“Most of my working hours are limited to indoor office work,” said Hemin Ahamd, a government employee, “but it will be a real challenge for people who work out of doors,” Ahmad said, adding that he was sure the reduced working hours will help to some extent during Ramadan.
After waiting for many hours, people usually head to the mosques before breaking their fast; they perform their prayers before going home to eat the evening meal with their family.
Dates and cold water are served as the first sustenance after the daily fast. Some mosques offer meals for people from low-income families.
“Ramadan is a gift from God to Muslims. It allows them to purify themselves from the sins they have committed in their life. It is the month of forgiving, the month of feeding poor families, and the month of good deeds,” said Mala Mustafa, a scholar at Sulimaniya’s Big Mosque
An hour after eating, people go to the mosques again to perform Tarawih—extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, these prayers are not compulsory, although many Muslims choose to attend them.
A man raised his hands and prays in an Erbil mosque.