June 27, 2016

Fasting Experience in Sweden

Today marks 22 days of Ramadan. 8 days more to go before Ramadan leave us again. Alhamdulillah, this year my little family have a second valuable opportunities to gain experience fasting in Sweden. 

Sweden is located in the Northern Europe and lies between latitudes 60.1282° North and 18.6435° East. Due the high latitude, Sweden have very long hours of daylight in the summer and long nights in the winter. Since the Ramadan falls in June, during summer, the period of fast in Sweden is extremely long. It is a fact that it is going to be challenging and tough to us as fasting here span about 20 hours a day.

We started fasting by having suhoor before 1.52 in the early morning and have our iftar at 10.20 in the evening. 

In the beginning, I'm pretty worried about the children. Would they able to fast for 20 hours especially our 7 years old boy, Adel. Surprisingly, they managed to fast and doing very well again this year. 

9 p.m at Uppsala, Sweden

View at 10.00 p.m. The sun's still up and the sky was bright!

Truthfully, we don't feel so thirsty, hungry or too tired. It might because the cold weather here with average temperatures between 13°C - 23°C. On the other side, the most important aspects for the success of fasting long hours are be prepared for mental, physical and spiritual challenges.

First day Ramadan kinda one long day for him. As the day passes by, he doing so well, patiently waiting for adhan Maghrib.

In order to cope with long hours fasting, we filled with some fun activities. During Ramadan, we have changed our sleeping time. We went to sleep after Subuh (around 2 a.m and sometimes around 5 - 6 in the morning) and woke up before noon. Tak boleh nak tidur lama-lama sebab kat luar dah cerah benderang dan kadang-kadang bunyi kuat from nearby construction. 

I am so thankful because this blessed month falls during long summer holidays. The reasons are our children do not have to go to school and will have enough quality sleeping time since they sleep late. Secondly, we will not have to prepare the long explanation to their Swedish teachers why our children have learning to fast (tiada paksaan) at very young age. Nak suruh dorang je bagitau kat cikgu, ntah-ntah lain pulak yang difahamnya. No..no..no..

Feeding birdies and duckies at the lake in the city park.

A walk in the woods.
On the way ke Coop Konsum (grocery shop) di hujung hutan sebelah sana. Kalau naik bas nak kena tukar bas 2 kali dan perjalanan jadi jauh. So better jalan kaki je la, ikut jalan shortcut, jimat duit tambang bas. hehe..

Spending time playing outside at the playground.

Playing football at nearby school field. They're still fully energized even fast.

Grocery shopping with mommy.

One of their activity at home is playing LEGO.

Solat itu tiang, puasa = dinding, zakat = bumbung dan haji pulak tangga. 
Jadi, kalau puasa kena la solat. Kalau tak macam mana dinding rumah itu nak berdiri.

Dalam rukun Islam, solat nombor 2 dan puasa nombor 3. Jadi, yang mana dulu akan ditanya Allah nanti. 

(My explanation to our kids) 

Mari belajar mengaji.

Definitely we missed all those enjoyable moments throughout Ramadan that we have back in Malaysia. Here in Sweden, we are not able to get together with our parents, families and friends for iftar or suhoor. It is pretty troublesome to break fast at someone's house or at restaurant (already closed) as the breaking time was around 10-ish in the evening. We also missed to join Taraweeh prayer at the mosque. And the most thing that I missed a lot is the beautiful live adhan. 

Fasting in another country with minority Muslim is totally different from Malaysia. There's no family iftar with mom's cooking, Bazar Ramadan, buffet Ramadan, variation of delicious foods, nasi kerabu, nasi kandar, murtabak, satay, ayam percik, kuih-muih and many more. If we're craving for one, I have to made it from scratch. 

Halal meat (chicken, beef and lamb) can be found in many Middle Eastern grocers in Uppsala. Sometimes I also bought chicken (brand Eldorado) from Swedish grocery store, Willy:s.

Yusuuuuf Taiyoooob takde , Maghadi dates pun ok jer.

Sini takde bazar Ramadan jual kuih-muih yang macam-macam jenis. 
Ada jual baklava je kat kedai Arab ni.

Our simple home cook menu for iftar.

We have less than four hours to break fast, perform Maghrib and 'Isha prayers, Taraweeh, suhoor and Subuh prayer. Definitely this making us to be more grateful on what Allah has given to us all this time. Although, we sometimes neglected that priceless long night in blessed month by delay the prayer or go sleeping instead of make time to perform a Tahajjud prayer or Qiyaam-ul-lail. 

There is still a heated debate among Muslim scholars over fasting hours. Some Muslims living in European countries and closer to Arctic circle (like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland who have to fast for more than 20 hours a day) have raised concerns over whether any exceptions can be made to allow them to fast according to the time in Mecca. 

Based on the fatwa (Islamic ruling) writes by Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan;
"Those who wish to follow dawn-sunset timings of 18-21 hour fasts and can do so safely, are free to do so."


"Those who find this genuinely unbearable, or are convinced of the non-literalist approach of "morning to evening" rather than the literalist "dawn to sunset", may wish to fast for 12 or preferably 14-16 hours, beginning from dawn, sunrise or even their usual morning meal (breakfast)." 

Yet according to Imam we referred to in Sweden, a Muslim should fast according to the times of the country they are living in as long as there is visible sunrise and sunsets. 

Regardless of which Islam ruling you are following with, the beauty of Islam is its flexibility. It doesn't matter either you fasting for 13, 18 or 24 hours as long as you believe in what you're doing. May the Almighty accept all our good and lawful wishes. Indeed He knows the secrets of hearts and no one can accept dua's except Him. 

As we enter the last 10 days, the gem of Ramadan, let us intensify our Ibadah. This is our one last chance to multiply our rewards. I will pray from my heart that Allah accept all our good deeds and effort this Ramadan. Please do not forget us in your dua'.

Happy fasting!

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