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Ramadan in Russia…long fasting hours and scorching heat

Source : Anas Omar | Islam Online
Moscow | 03 Aug 2011

Ramadan has a distinct feel in Russia, even though there is no observed change; the stores are open, and people go about their day as usual with their usual eating habits.

Dr. Rahmatullah stated to “Islam Online”: “all Muslims are immersed in the mercy of Allah.  Everything around us is as is, but when you enter the mosque, you feel the blessing of Ramadan…The crowded mosques are full of life…With the grace of Allah our situation changed now.  We can finally experience this feeling that we were deprived of for decades.”

All streets leading to the mosques are crowded with Muslims, who come from all parts of the city to pray and stay in the mosque, and to buy groceries from the Halal stores surrounding the mosque.

Roslyn Bashirevich, one of the leaders of the mosque stated to Islam Online: “I come to the mosque as much as possible.  Coming to the mosque is one of the most essential things for me in the month of Ramadan…In Ramadan one would be overtaken by thought of the reality of things.  You become certain that one would not live forever.  Therefore, we must prepare ourselves fully for the Hereafter.  It is truly a divine feeling that we only feel in the blessed month of Ramadan.

Ramadan and the scorching heat

Russia is very well known for its cold climate and an environment befitting for polar bears.  But, for the temperature to reach over 30°C, and could sometimes reach 40°C, is something that the Russian people are not used to.

Ramadan this year is much like the previous year in terms of its high temperatures, which led to many forest fires in several northern and southern Russian cities.

A distinctive aspect of Ramadan in Russia, which has been occurring for the past several years, is the long fasting hours, where the Muslims fast more than 18 hours a day.  This causes hardships for the fasting Muslims, especially those who work in labor.  However, nonetheless, the Muslims do not mind fasting despite the hardships they face.

This year the weather is very harsh.  Despite that, with the coming of Ramadan we felt a sense of psychological ease that is aiding us in overcoming all hardships.  Ramadan only comes once a year.  Therefore, we must be patient and gain as much benefit from it as we can.  Ramadan truly has a distinct taste that we feel in our hearts,” said Bashir Mohmamedov, who works as an engineer in a private company, to “Islam Online”.

Charitable achievements like never before

In the past few years, there has been an ample amount of charitable activities like never before.  Some associations would organize Iftar meals in all mosques and prayer areas.  Others would increase their efforts in gathering donations for orphans, and the sick in need of medications.

Dr. Nidal Al-Heeh, Mufti Advisor of the Saratov region stated to Islam Online: “this year, we organized daily Iftar programs in all our associated mosques.  The programs also consist of Quran courses and Islamic lectures.

Keeping into consideration that Tarawih prayers are held at a late hour, we rented buses to transport Muslims back to their homes after performing the prayers.  This is a new project that we have never organized before.  In addition to that, we will also distribute juices and sweets to the children in an effort to encourage them to come to the mosque at such late hours,” he added.

Mohammed Salahudinov, Head of the Islamic Council of Russia affirmed to Islam Online that in addition to the Iftar activities they are hosting in association with their affiliated organizations in many Russian regions, they are also holding media activities in order to display the Muslim cultures and traditions in Ramadan.

“Engaging ourselves in the media is crucial.  We must make our activities known to the rest of the community.  This will in turn build a sense of competition, in addition to a sense of unity amongst the Muslims.”

Muslims’ engagement in media is very weak.  We are therefore attempting to fill that gap through the Islamic channel we are overlooking.  Ramadan traditions differ amongst different backgrounds; we want to make these traditions known as much as possible,” he added.

Ramadan traditions

Depending on their backgrounds, Muslims have differing traditions in Ramadan.  However, the entire Muslim community has a thing in common; fasting the days and praying in the nights.

Despite that fact that the Muslims live in a non-Muslim society that affects them greatly, the Muslims in Russia maintained their identity, and even passed it on to others.

Amongst the traditions of Ramadan in Russia is inviting the local Imam or Reciter to Iftar.  Then, all those who are present, regardless of their age, must recite a few verses from the Quran.

Shortly after, and while drinking tea, the Imam would give a lecture regarding remaining firm on the Muslim belief.


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