By Mallory Clarkson
Imagine not being able to take even a sip of water from sunrise to sunset.
If you did that for one day, that may not seem like a demanding feat. But for the dozens of Muslims living in Lloydminster, they do that for 30 days during the month of Ramadan.
Right now, that means people like Muhammad Mukarram, a member of the Islamic Centre of Lloydminster and a production engineer with Husky Energy, aren’t able to eat food or drink any beverage, no smoking and no sex from around 3:30 a.m. until approximately 9:30 p.m. at night.
Ramadan is Islam’s holy month. It’s the month where the Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, descended to earth.
Five prayers are held throughout the day, as normal, but Mukarram said according to the Qur’an, if you pray on one of the odd nights towards the end of the month it’s worth 1,000 months of prayer.
“That’s why I say, if you pray on that night, you’ll be rewarded by much,” he said. “Whatever we do, good deeds we do, it will be multiplied by 70 times.
“We try to do as many prayers this month and then the most important prayer is at night, which is, nowadays, 11 p.m.”
People pray facing the Kaaba, which is a large, black room in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is known to Muslims as the House of Allah or God. Mukarram explained when every Muslim prays, they should keep their heads towards that position.
“So here in Lloydminster, it’s 28-degrees nort east,” he noted.
Locally, people meet at the Islamic Centre of Lloydminster (4920-50 St.) and break their daily Ramadan fasts as a community. There will be an event at the centre the final day too.
The idea behind Ramadan, Mukarram said, is so people really feel the pain and suffering of the less fortunate, those who don’t have access to clean water to drink or food to eat.
“We try to donate generously, especially in this month or Ramadan, so this is the main reason behind it,” he said. “Even in this modern world, millions of people are without food and water.”
There are exceptions to who participates in the fast, however. Those who are ill, elderly, are travelling or pregnant are exempt. Kids also don’t have to participate, but some, like Mukarram’s 11-year-old son have already fasted more than 15 days this month.
If a person is sick, he can count the days and make up time after. But, if you break the fast without a legitimate, non-medical reason, there is a penalty.
“He’s got to fast 60 days just for that day. And if you can’t do it, you’ve got to feed 60 people three times,” Mukarram said.
As the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, Ramadan starts with the sighting of the moon. When the moon is seen again at the end of the month, the following day is marked with celebration.
Mukarram explained it’s kind of like Christmas for people following the Christian faith.
“That day always starts with prayers and food. Here it’s different because it’s not a Muslim country, but back home, you normally get three days off for the celebration,” he said, adding it’s a very social time. “People want to go home, the kids get gifts and cash.”
This is something Mukarram said he looks forward to every year.