DOHA: Muslims in Qatar will fast for more than 15 hours a day during Ramadan, which coincides with the peak of summer season this year and likely to begin tomorrow or Sunday.
If the crescent is sighted this evening, people will need to fast from early next morning (3.16am on June 28) until 6.30pm — 15 hours and 14 minutes.
Not only eating but taking water and liquid of any kind and smoking are also forbidden for the devout, who is fasting.
The last time Ramadan fell around this time of the year in this region was 32 years ago — in 1982. Fasting hours are much shorter during the peak winter months when the day is shorter.
On the last day of Ramadan, fasting hours will shrink to 14 hours and 51 minutes. In view of the extreme weather, worshippers are calling for erecting temporary shades outside mosques to accommodate increasing number of people.
There are an estimated 2,500 big, medium and small mosques in Qatar, all of which have geared up for the fasting month.
Normally, a mosque is open on average for 10 hours a day at different times for the five prayers, but during Ramadan, the duration almost doubles.
A mosque normally closes after the late evening prayer of ‘Isha’ but during the first three weeks of Ramadan, the late night prayers (Taraweeh) are held at most mosques.
From the 20th of Ramadan onwards, according to imams, mosques are open most of the time of the day and close only for a few hours after the early-morning prayer.
As a result, electricity and water consumption goes up massively in a mosque during the holy month.
Ramadan, according to an imam, is also the busiest month for them as it entails them to lead the additional ‘Taraweeh’ prayers, aside from occasionally delivering religious lectures during late afternoon (Asr) and late evening (Isha) prayers.
According to sources, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has this year not issued any circular to imams ahead of Ramadan. Sometimes the ministry does, as it directs them to give lectures on topical subjects mostly related to social problems.
“We keep getting ministry circulars on what kind of subjects to focus on during Friday sermons and lectures during Ramadan,” said a source.
Topics vary from creating awareness about drug abuse, smoking and terrorism.
“We are asked to urge people to respect others’ faith and rights,” said the source. “Keeping a family united is also one of the main themes of our lectures.”
As an increasing number of Muslims frequent mosques during Ramadan, an imam’s interaction with them increases.
“More people come to us with their problems, looking for answers in the light of Islamic laws,” said an imam. “People mainly seek religious opinion about divorce, employers owing them money and bank loans,” the imam said.
This is also the month when Muslims give away zakat for the benefit of poorer Muslims.