Heat wave tests Muslims during month of fasting - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Heat wave tests Muslims during month of fasting

Islamic Center of the South Plains Islamic Center of the South Plains

The heat wave is taking a toll on everyone across the country. Imagine how much more uncomfortable it might feel to go through the day without a drop of water or anything to eat.

Well that's exactly what the Muslim community is doing for the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. Participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activity during daylight hours.

Compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards by about eleven days each year depending on the moon. This year Ramadan falls during the hottest stretch of summer days on record for Texas and many other parts of the U.S.

Muslims at the Islamic Center of the South Plains say it takes spiritual food to get through the 100-degree plus days on an empty stomach.

"We don't walk or work under the sun, otherwise we would get thirsty. So we try and avoid the sun as much as we can," said Imam Samer Altabaa.

Samer Altabaa the Imam at the mosque says the hunger pains and thirst are a time for Muslims to refresh their body, worship and find peace.

"Fasting is a food for the soul," said Altabaa.

Altabaa says it's a reminder that people are suffering and to help them.

Every night when the sun goes down and those fasting eat and drink, they come together for an extra prayer at 10:15 p.m. just for Ramadan. Normally, Muslims just pray five times a day always facing Mecca, their holy city.

"We recite part of holy Quran and stand up and bow down to show our humbleness to God that we are his servant," said Altabaa.

However, when the sun creeps back up and the heat starts to mask the air, it is sometimes too much for some Muslims to fast. If they have health issues they simply pay a fee.

"They pay money to the needy or poor people instead," said Altabaa.

Jennifer Gorman, the outpatient dietitian for Covenant, says always consult your doctor before you fast.

"You can go without food for days, weeks or months at times, but you can't go without water. Your body will dehydrate quickly," said Gorman.

For those practicing, she them to find alternative ways to keep cool during the sizzling weather.

"Stay in the shade and you won't hear a dietician say this often, but limit exercise because that can cause you to persperate and lose fluid through your skin," said Gorman.

Abdul Hamood says the first few days are always a struggle.

"The idea is you are doing everything you would normally do, going and working and moving," said Hamood.

He says the hot temperatures are a test from God, a challenge he can work through.

"If you love somebody so much and you are devoted, you say I will do anything you want," said Hamood.

The Islamic Center says this is really a community effort where they can lean on each other for support. At the end of the month they have a large feast where others in the community can come when they break the fast.

Also, the Center says every time they pray during Ramadan, they pray for rain.

Copyright 2011.  KCBD NewsChannel 11.

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