The Holy month of Ramadan will surely be testing the Taqwa of some Muslims this year as English.alarabiya.net reports that Muslims living in Britain will be fasting for an estimated 19 hours throughout this month. Given the fact that Ramadan occurs during the summer season this year, fasting will prove to be a very challenging task although equally inspiring and revitalizing as well.
A 19 hour fast means that Muslims will only have about five hours between Iftar (the breaking fast meal at sunset) and Suhour (the pre-dawn meal). This is a very small window of time, almost half compared to other parts of the world like the Middle East and South East Asia. This is due to location as well as the time of year.
It has also been reported that the European Council for Fatwa and Research is studying some issues linked to fasting in countries where the afternoons are extremely long. The Central Mosque in London has published the Ramadan calendar for 2014 and it states that dawn prayers (Fajr prayer) on day one of Ramadan will be at 2.48am while the sunset prayers (Magrib prayer) and time for Iftar will be at 9.25pm. Isha prayers will be at 11.03pm followed by Taravih.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the starting date of Ramadan. One relies on a lunar sighting throughout the UK to determine the start of Ramadan while the other follows Saudi Arabia. If the new moon has been sighted there, it immediately applies on a worldwide scale regardless of the time zone difference. The Central Mosque in London usually announces the first day of Ramadan and the first day of Eid-ul-Fitr; Saudi Arabia figure out the latter according to Islamic Sharia rulings of the moon sighting.
Sheikh Hassan Halawa, secretary general of the European Council for Fatwa said that he will visit Sweden and other European areas soon to look at the prayer times and answer some questions on the topic of Ramadan. However, he made it clear about the possibility of not fasting by saying that it is not acceptable for Muslims stop fasting in Britain due to the length of the day, adding that it’s more difficult to fast in other countries due to the heat.
There are more than 2.5 million Muslims living in the UK today according to the latest official statistics. This number continues to grow and the figure is expected to double in the next 10 years. While the thought of a 19 hour fast throughout the month of Ramadan is no doubt challenging, Sheikh Halawa added that fasting hours in some European countries will be longer than those in Britain.
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