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

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - Zakaria Muhammed

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.

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