Today, 13 April 2021, begins the holy period of Ramadan. Millions of Muslims around the world will be celebrating today. The festival involves a month of prayer and fasting. Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is also one of the Five Pillars of Islam – the principles which Muslims believe are compulsory acts ordered by God.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims are encouraged to give to charity, strengthen their relationship with God, and show kindness and patience. During this month, believers also head to the mosque for an additional night prayer called Taraweeh, only held during Ramadan.
‘Shaum’ – or fasting during daylight hours is considered to be an act of worship, which enables Muslims to feel closer to God and strengthen their spiritual health and self-discipline. It is also intended to build empathy for those less fortunate. Followers eat a meal before dawn, and then break their fast after sunset with a meal called ‘iftar’ or ‘fitoor’.
So, how does this work in Sweden – a place where daylight hours can be very long? Well, it is more difficult to do Shaum if Ramadan lands in the month of June. In June, in the North, there is no dawn and sunset – but instead the Midnight Sun. This would mean that people would not eat or drink for a long period – which is not sustainable. Nor is the intention that people should overly suffer. In these instances, it is recommended to choose a city (such as Malmö for example) and follow their timings, even if you you yourself are sitting way up north in arctic Kiruna.
However, this year Ramadan is in April, which means that those fasting in the north of Sweden will have to not eat or drink between 04.55 and 20.24 – which, if you ask me, is tough enough.
If you’d like to wish somebody a Happy Ramadan, you can say “Ramadan Kareem,” which translates into “Have a generous Ramadan,” or “Ramadan Mubarak,” which roughly translates into “Happy Ramadan.” On the last day of Ramadan, which is Eid-al-fitr, the greeting changes to “Eid Mubarak.”