Never have I thought a long time ago that I would be fasting in Germany. God granted my wishes to live in Germany surrounded by the people I love and who love me back unconditionally. I have been living here in Germany for almost 5 years ( This 20th of June will mark my fifth year of living in Germany, alhamdulillah), and the first time that came up in my mind when I moved to Germany after marrying my wonderful husband was the RAMADAN. I was curious how I would endure the fasting month during summer time. I was excited to be on the path of 18 hours fasting with no food and no drink during summer time, even though if one wants to discuss deeply about Ramadan: Ramadan is not just about skipping eating and drinking, but also bringing closer oneself to God. Anyway, that is not about to be blogged here. What I would like to share is one of my deepest thoughts after all these years experiencing fasting month in Germany.
When people ask whether or not it is hard to fast in Germany, the answer can be a bit long to explain. The thing is there are many factors that somehow make my fasting go smoothly most of the time, but roughly on the other hand.
I grew up in a muslim family, surrounded by different religions who respect each other. I have learned fasting at the age of 7 (when it comes to learning fasting: Kids until certain of age of puberty are allowed to break the fasting at midday, then continue the fasting until the sun sets.) and have started fasting to its full meaning at the age of 9. I don’t think it’s necessary to tell you how old I am, but the thing is I have been doing this fasting for more than 20 years. Even though Ramadan comes once a year, still it takes a habit to get used to doing it.
2. Weather and Season
Indonesia has a sultry weather. Even though some parts of the cities can be quite cool ( 20 C), but in general the weather in Indonesia can be very unpleasently hot. When I was still in Indonesia, doing fasting during dry seasons was a real challenge, especially if I had to be active outside where I got direct sunlight most of the time. The sun beam in Indonesia is absolutely very strong. In contrast, Germany has a mild hot weather in the summer, even though sometimes it can reach up to 35 C (one time it was like 40 C), but summer Germany is mostly mild according to Indonesian standard (my standard). As of I am writing this, it’s been cloudy, rainy and cool (15 C), oh yes what a nice summer. I know many people do expect the sun shines ( Germany in my opinion only has overal less than 3 months of hot summer months, the rest of the months are mostly cool to cold degree. One of the things I am feeling blessed for living in Germany is the cool weather even in the summer months.) So, fasting in such cool weather even though the duration is longer than in Indonesia (12 hours) is much easier in my opinion.
Indonesia is not a muslim country, we have many different religions. However, Indonesia is the most populous muslim country in the world, thus Ramadan is indeed celebrated and welcomed elaborately in Indonesia. The ‘supported’ environment does make the fasting feel different, thus to some people it affects their motivation to do the fasting. It does make sense to say that Ramadan in Germany seems like normal days. Muslims are minority in Germany, however Germany is a respectful country: the news about fasting month coming is often broadcasted on the radio and news on TV or newspapers. Indonesian people often make their own community, so when it’s Christmas for example, those who are Christian and Catholic often gather together to celebrate it together. It’s the same with Indonesian muslims in Germany: they often organize Ramadan activities together.
The length of the dawn to sunset time varies in dfferent parts of the world according to summer or winter solstices of the sun. In polar regions, the period between dawn and sunset may exceed 22 hours in summers. Indonesia has three different time zone, even though the time different is only one hour ahead or behind at the most. Muslim people in Germany fast around 18 -20 hours; they fast around from 2:50 AM until around 21:30 and 22:00. Well, I consider fasting in Germany is ‘easier’ than fasting, say, in Finland or Iceland, which one time I read on a blog that it could reach until 22 hours. How would someone arrange breaking the fast and starting fasting again within 2 hours?. I wouldn’t say it is easy nor difficult, but it can be a real challenge.
I am not talking religiously here, I just want to make it easier to explain what I am about to tell you, imagine: You can’t ride a bike at all, but you really want to be able to ride a bike (your target) to save the money traveling by public transportations (your purpose). Then, you start learning how to bike every day, every time you have a chance to practice how to bike (start learning fasting early on) until finaly you are capable of riding a bike and loving it wholeheartedly (because you are used to fasting). One day you are biking 2 Km, the next day you are upgrading to 4, and the next month you want to conquer 7 km biking distance. You are so used to biking that you feel strange when you are not biking even only a day or two. What I mean to say is the habit mixed with the determination, strong motivation are the key factors to do the fasting in the country where the length of fasting is longer than the normal length of time you were used to doing.
So, literally speaking when people ask me about whether it is hard to fast in Germany, I would honestly explain these 5 factors. However, most people do not want to listen too long to listen my boring explanations about this fasting thing, unless they are really curious and want to know about it completely, so when asked the question, I simply mention the 2 factors shortly : Habit, and Weather.
Happy Ramadan (still) to all who are doing it!