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Fasting For Ramadan On Long Summer Days

Associated Press

Muslims worldwide have been marking the month of Ramadan, which ends this Saturday.

During Ramadan, observant Muslims are expected to fast from sunrise to sunset.

But it’s 115 degrees outside. How in the world does one abstain from consuming any food or – especially – water during a Ramadan in a Las Vegas summer?

Athar Hasebullah knows. Hasebullah is an attorney for Legal Aid, and he's affiliated with the Masjid Ibrahim Mosque in Las Vegas.

“Essentially, our first prayer of the day is at sunrise,” Hasebullah explained, which in Las Vegas right now is at 4 a.m. As soon as the first prayer, Muslims abstain from liquids and food until the sun sets, which right now is about 8 p.m. 

“Your body actually starts to adjust to Ramadan. It is something you start to look forward to,” he said.

But it is not just about abstaining from food or drink, there are special prayer services at night at the mosque, which is where a lot of people go to break their fast.

“Each night, during the month of Ramadan, there is a prayer service where there is a recitation of an entire chapter from the Quran, in Arabic obviously and the goal is in the course of the 30 days is to complete the entire book,” Hasebullah said.

Each person works out on their own how to be ready for the next day of fasting. Hasebullah makes sure to drink a lot of water before the day starts, but doesn't binge eat overnight so he's not sluggish the next day. Usually, he weans himself off coffee and all caffeine before the start of Ramadan so that the withdrawal isn't is bad but this year, he didn't.

“The withdrawal from caffeine is probably up there amongst the worst,” he said.

Hasebullah said when he first started to fast as a boy it was just about the deprivation from food and liquid but as he got older he understood it as a time to draw closer to his faith. 

“I think for me personally when I started to experience a lot of personal tragedy, whether it was a family member dying or friends dying. At that point, you kind of look forward to the month as something more than just a food and liquid issue,” he said.

Hasebullah said a month of abstaining from food and liquid, extra prayers, and personal reflection helps him refocus his life.

“This month allows you to focus on something else other than yourself and your own woes,” he said. He said the month helps people connect with the worldwide community of Muslims and understand what people who don't have food or drink go through every day. 

The month ends with Eid, which includes a large prayer service and time with family and friends to reflect on what was learned during Ramadan. 

Athar Hasebullah, attorney, Legal Aid

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)