A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Ramadan Falls in August

It's a sticky, hot, humid day today, a Washington August, and given the fact that we're within two days of the start of Ramadan, it was a reminder that the month of fasting and prayer for Muslims is particularly challenging when it falls in the summertime. Muslims refrain from food, drink, and other pleasures during the daylight hours, so when the days are longest, in summer, Ramadan can be more of a sacrifice than when it falls in winter, with cooler, shorter days. (The Islamic calendar is purely lunar and 354 days long, so Ramadan falls about 11 day earlier on the Western calendar each year, and thus shifts around the seasons.) And not only is August hot here in DC, but it's hot in the Middle East too, of course. The days are long, the temperature hot, and the fast prohibits even water. So a Ramadan starting n August is difficult.

Ramadan is expected to begin August 22 this year, though there are usually a few interpretive differences and some countries may start August 21. I'll say more about Ramadan over the course of the month, but the temperature inspired this observation.

1 comment:

LJ Marczak said...

What's interesting as well are the regional differences.

When I was in Indonesia (2001) there were no shortened working hours for Ramadan. Fasting was largely a personal decision.

On more than one occasion at one client in Jakarta, I was offered tea by someone who was obviously fasting. This was in an open area where some staff were fasting and some weren't.

Similar to the Cairo of 1970 I recall.