Heat a worry as Ramadan fast begins
Metro area Muslims innovate to observe month of abstinence
Oralandar Brand-Williams/ The Detroit News
Dearborn —Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, begins today amid one of the hottest summers in years, prompting precautions among Muslims who fast from dawn to dusk.
“We’re expecting record heat this year,” said Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan and assistant imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad mosque on Detroit’s west side.
Ramadan falls at different times each year because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. The observance — known as the “blessed month” — is marked by prayers, works of charity and abstinence from food, tobacco, sex and liquids during the day.
“We’ll be going 17 hours without food or water,” said Walid.
The owner of a California-based company that markets the “Ramadan Fasting Tablet,” made of herbs to curb hunger pangs, says the heat has put his product in short supply. “We sold out (last week) because of the weather,” said Sam Ez.
Dearborn resident Sana Khalil has asthma, but takes the temperatures in stride. She said she’ll keep cool by wearing lighter clothing and a thinner hijab, or head covering.
“It’s just for one month. It’s very important for God,” said Khalil, 48. “It’s very important for Muslims.”
At Fordson High School, 98 percent of the football team, the Tractors, is Muslim. It had been difficult for the players to maintain practice schedules and observe Ramadan. But last year, the team began practicing overnight to avoid injuries amid the heat. Next week, the team plans to practice from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Abedallah Shlebah, a senior running back, said drinking water before the fasting period is the key to being able to fulfill his religious duties and practice.
“You have to drink as much water as possible,” said 17-year-old Shlebah.
The Fordson team is the subject of a documentary, “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football,” which was scheduled for screening at filmmaker Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival over the weekend.
The movie will be shown exclusively at area AMC Theatres, including Dearborn and 10 other U.S. cities, starting Sept. 9.