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Countdown to Ramadan
Muslim community follows Mecca time in land of the midnight sun

Sarah Ladik
Northern News Services
Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Muslim community of Inuvik opened its doors to share its food and culture at the Midnight Sun Mosque May 22 by hosting a barbecue to celebrate the upcoming start of Ramadan, a month of prayer and fasting that begins on June 6.

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Nabiha Hossain shows off her henna design at the Ramadan kickoff May 22 at the Midnight Sun Mosque. - Kaila Jefferd-Moore/NNSL photo

"We like to get together with our community and families to share a meal and celebrate together," said Sandra Suliman, as she walked the guests of the barbecue through a tour of the mosque while the men finished grilling barbecued lamb.

Ramadan, the holy month, is a month-long dedication to fasting between before sunrise and after sunset.

Fasting doesn't just entail abstaining from food during the daylight hours. It is also abstaining from drinking and sex, and actions such as smoking cigarettes, talking about others behind their backs or using profanity.

To fast from dawn to dusk is a tough feat in the land of the midnight sun, where the sun neither sets nor rises. Instead of observing the Inuvik hours, the community of the Midnight Sun Mosque observes the hours of the sun's rise and fall in Mecca, the center for Muslims in Saudi Arabia, and fast from the hours of 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"God doesn't want you to suffer," said Abdalla Mohamed.

He explained that the reason for fasting isn't to punish oneself to prove devotion, and that to participate in Ramadan following Inuvik's sunlight hours would be impossible.

Ramadan is to teach understanding of those who are less privileged, to decrease one's desires and increases one's closeness to God, says Abdalla.

"You don't know the hunger of the poor until you experience it yourself," he said while being occasionally interrupted to help the Inuvik residents who came to collect food baskets from the Midnight Sun Mosque's community food bank.

The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, which is a time to feel proud of oneself and acknowledge the accomplishment of fasting for the previous 30 days.

Organizers said there are no set plans yet for a community celebration at that time.

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