Heat wave challenges U.S. Muslims as Ramadan nears its end

August 27, 2011

(The dried south fork of Lake Arlington is seen near Bowman Springs Park, where park personnel indicated the water level was nine feet below normal, in Arlington, Texas August 5, 2011/Mike Stone)

When Shareef Ghaly is hammering nails into window frames under a scorching sun in the midst of a historic Texas heat wave, he’s doing it for his career. And Harvard linebacker Zakareya Aossey practices in the heat with no complaints, all for love of the game.

But a stronger conviction leads these two Muslims to suffer through it with no water or food as they near the end of the holy month of Ramadan in one of the hottest U.S. summers on record, when the days stretch past 13 hours and regularly top 100 degrees. “If this continues, I’m going to have to move somewhere cooler,” said a chuckling Ghaly, who owns Diamondback Renovations and Painting in Austin.

Younger people like Ghaly, 36, who started fasting at age 20, have never seen a Ramadan so hot and with such long fasting hours as this one. At first, he said, Ramadan fell in December, when the daylight lasted about 10 hours. “By the time I got thirsty, it was time to break my fast,” he said. “It was a piece of cake back then.”

These days, he tries to schedule his outside jobs before Ramadan starts. This month, he and his crew had some brickwork and exterior windows to do. They keep wet towels nearby to cool off and set up canopies and tents when they can. “Working outside around 1 or 2 p.m., you really start to get thirsty,” he said, “It’s like you’re waiting for that minute where you break your fast, so you can get that first cup of water, which tastes incredible.”

Read the full story by Karen Brooks here.


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