Belgium’s Muslims start their Ramadan fast during a heat wave
Saturday, 27 May 2017
The Ramadan month-long fast started at dawn on Saturday in Belgium, while temperatures of up to 30° are predicted. Muslims taking part cannot drink, eat, smoke or have sexual relations from sunrise to sunset for a whole month.
The start date for the fast in Belgium was set on Thursday, after a Theologian council meeting. They are part of the Belgian Muslim Executive Council (EMB). The organisation represents Islam, and “wants this sacred month to be based on piousness, helping each other and dialogue with all those who are part of Belgian society”, according to its President, Salah Echallaoui.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Arabian Lunar Calendar. When it starts is determined locally, depending on the first crescent of the New Moon during the “night of doubt”. This year, Ramadan in Belgium will start at the same time as Saudi Arabia and France, for example.
All Muslims old enough to practice religion are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or have sexual relations from dawn until sunset. There are exceptions for children who have not yet reached puberty, pregnant women, people who are ill or the elderly.
Ramadan in Belgium will start during a heat wave this year: temperatures of up to 30° are predicted for the centre. It also coincides with the start of exams for students. It is expected to end around the 25th of June. There is a celebration to mark the end of the fast, Aïd el-Fitr. This is not the same as Aïd el-Kebir, or the Sacrifice festival.