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Iraq’s hot summer adds to challenge of Ramadan fast
When I was nine years old, I began fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It is a religious duty I love to carry out each year, to experience the sense of unity with Muslims who don’t eat or drink from dawn until sunset.
But this year the chronic shortages of electricity and water supplies that plague the Iraqi capital Baghdad — combined with Ramadan falling during a very hot summer — has forced many to abandon the fast at times.
This saddens me but I don’t blame them because I also have had to stop fasting on Friday and Saturday, my days off from work, because of frequent power outages at home.
One Friday during this Ramadan my eight-year-old son saw me drinking water during the fasting period. I confessed to him that I was not fasting.
I should have been a symbol of strength for him just like my mother was to me during my childhood.On the first day of Ramadan, my son said he wanted to fast so I encouraged him to do so.
He made it until 1 p.m., when thirst forced him to drink water.
My mother, who I enjoy preparing food and sweets to break the fast with, managed to fast only for the first two days of Ramadan. After that, she had to stop. A friend of mine told me she fainted on the first day and said she would not be able to complete the fasting month. Muslims in Iraq are fasting for around 14 hours, until the fourth prayer of the day at sunset. Like Muslims around the world, they can eat and drink after the sun has set until the next morning’s predawn prayer.
One of my colleagues at my office — where a big generator keeps the power on all day — described fasting this year as “hard” because of the heat and power cuts and water shortages.
But he said he was determined to keep fasting until Ramadan finishes at the end of September. I wish I could do the same.