For Muslims all around the world, Ramadan is always considered to be a sacred and special month and this year is no exception. Falling on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a whole month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
This year, the holy month of Ramadan is set to commence on Tuesday, April 13, lasting for the next 30 days. The holy month of fasting entails abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations to achieve greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.
Every year before Ramadan commences, Muslims work to adjust their daily routine, preparing to fit in the Taraweeh prayers, which is performed every night throughout the holy month.
Usually, these special Ramadan prayers lasting more than an hour are performed in a congregation, but with mosques either closed or operating at a limited capacity this year due to COVID-19, many Muslims will be performing them at home.
The number of daylight hours varies from country to country. Muslims living in the world’s southernmost countries such as Chile or New Zealand will fast an average of 11 hours while those living in northern countries such as Iceland or Norway will have an 18+ hour fast.
For Muslims living in the Northern Hemisphere, the number of fasting hours will be a bit shorter this year and will continue to decrease until 2032, which is the year Ramadan will fall during the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. After that, fasting hours will increase until the summer solstice – the longest day of the Northern year. For Muslims living south of the equator, the opposite will happen.
In extreme northernmost cities such as Longyearbyen, Norway, where the sun does not set from April 20 to August 22, religious rulings, or fatwas, have been issued to follow timings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, or the nearest Muslim country.
[Credit : diasmaulana]