Ramadan in the Western world: A test of patience.

26th Apr 2019

Ayesha Shakeel

Ramadan is a month of fasting known to bring peace and prosperity to a person and to awaken the feelings from within, how it is to resist the temptation from wrongdoing, eating and drinking.

In the side of the world where the sun rarely goes down during the summer, fasting can be a great test of patience. With long hours of daylight in countries like the UK, US and Canada, a fast can be even 19-21 hours long.

The same principles of fasting apply to Muslims all over the world whether in a country like India where daylight is 14 hours or in Arctic Canada. So Muslims in the western part of the world display patience and withstand temptations that long fast brings.

Along with the long hours come other challenges, Muslims living in communities where the population comprises of a majority of people from other religions makes a great impact on a person’s life.

From watching others eat during the day to getting less time to pray and indulge in spiritual practices, Muslims can feel left out and have the urge to eat from seeing others.

Unlike some countries in the Middle East and Asia where there is a relief of working hours and there are breaks provided during Ramadan to office staff and other workers, routine work life is the same in western countries. Muslims have to manage their fast along with their regular work lifestyle.

There is also a cultural gap in many ways. In countries like the UK restaurants and shops can close as early as 8 pm but if a fast is broken later, Muslims have to pre-prepare Iftar (meal to break the fast).

Similarly, Suhoor (the meal eaten before dawn) needs to be pre-planned because food outlets are closed in the early hours of the morning. Due to globalisation, the differences are becoming less, where food can be ordered online and delivered to the door.

The troubles are not only faced during the holy month but also on Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan), instead of celebrating Eid with family and friends many Muslims have to go to work and school as Eid is not considered a public holiday in the majority of western countries.

Despite all the obstacles Muslims go through during the holy month in a foreign land. Ramadan continues to be a source of tranquillity and a celebration that brings Muslims from all parts of the world together.

 

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