Thursday, 29 February 2024 10:08

Ramadan in Stockholm: long hours of fasting but a festive atmosphere

Thursday, 02 July 2015

With the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims in Sweden are, despite long days of fasting, adamant to preserve their traditions in this holy month of piety and spirituality.

In the suburb of Skarholmen (south of Stockholm), where come to shop several Muslim families, cakes and other oriental delights have emerged from the first days of Ramadan.

"The cakes and sweets are selling like hot-cakes in this month," jokes Hamed, a Turkish seller who proudly displays his goods to customers from different parts of the Swedish capital.

In this quarter with strong presence of the Muslim community, the buzz in the markets is palpable in this holy month.While many families like to prepare their own traditional dishes by sourcing locally in spices and other staples, others received "reinforcements" from their country of origin.

This is the case of Mohamed, 38, a native of Salé, whose family sent him Rghayf, Chabakiya, Briwate and other culinary delights just days before the start of Ramadan.

"Even my wife, who is Swedish, is fond of Moroccan cuisine. With work and long days of fasting, it is hard to prepare these dishes, so I stock up at the source",.

This year, the period of fasting in Stockholm city reaches almost 20 hours and since Ramadan coincides with summer, the debate starts over again about the period of fasting.

Between those who insist on the need to fast based on the local time of prayer, and others who consider it necessary to follow the schedules of Mecca, or the nearest Muslim country, the debate will continue and dwells on for a long time in the absence of a decision at the highest peak of Muslim religious authorities.

"Fasting 20 or 21 hours is not accessible to everyone, especially for the elderly and young adolescents," says Ibrahim, who’s been living in Sweden for over 20 years.

Those who cannot fast for health reasons can always wait until the days are shorter to do so, said the employee, based on a recent fatwa issued by the European Council of Iftae.

A delegation of the council had recently traveled to the far north of Sweden, where the sun does not set at this time of the year, before holding a conference to announce its decision regarding fasting and schedule prayers in Ramadan.

For Mustafa, a father originally from Agadir, the most important is to instill in younger generations the values ​​of Islam in this blessed month.

"Spending more time with family, pray together and read the Koran, this is what Ramadan is all about" he says.

In the company of his two sons, Moustapha goes to the mosque Fittja (district of south Stockholm), which gathers hundreds of worshipers to prayer.

All the excitement and friendly atmosphere doesn’t go unnoticed in the eyes of the Swedish, always hungry for information about the symbolism of this month for the Muslim community. A community that continues to grow in the land of Vikings, in favor of an immigration policy deemed the most open at the EU level.

Indeed, the Scandinavian country has recently opened its doors to Syrians fleeing the war in their country, which reinforces a Muslim community already present for decades, notably composed of Iraqis, Somalis, Kurds and Palestinians.

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