New Kiwi Muslims cut some slack for Ramadan

Ahmadi Muslim convert Lee Eastham, 34, has been abstaining from food every Monday and Thursday for the last three weeks as a “practice run” for his first Ramadan fast.

Ramadan begins for members of the Muslim sect tomorrow, and observing members, like Mr Eastham, will fast from dawn until dusk each day over a 30-day period.

For mainstream Muslims, whether the Islamic holy month starts tomorrow or later in the week is dependent on a possible moon sighting this evening by a “hilal” committee made up of Islamic religious leaders.

Englishman Mr Eastham, a former Catholic, converted to Islam in January and said he was looking forward to his first religious fast that would bring him closer to God.

The Blackpool-born single father of two children, aged 5 and 9, said he became a Muslim after he felt a calling from Allah.

“I have been offering some voluntary fast in preparation for Ramadan, and I’ve definitely felt a closeness to God that I haven’t experienced before,” said Mr Eastham, a storeman.

“I also think that fasting … makes me more socially conscious, with the thirst and hunger, it makes you more aware of the plight of people who are less fortunate.”

I wonder how Muslims that live close to the poles manage when the night part is either very short, or very long. 

Shafiq ur Rehman, a missionary at the Baitul Muqeet Mosque, said the community was offering new converts encouragement and support.

The group were also inviting non-Muslims to a gathering at the mosque on June 18 to experience the fasting tradition in a bid to help people understand the significance of the practice.

“Fasting is one of the five basic pillars of the Islamic faith, and it strengthens our faith.”

Mr Rehman said Ramadan was also a time when Muslims reconnected with the Koran, which they believe is the word of God.Although Ramadan fasting is about refraining from eating, drinking and sex, Hazim Arafeh, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations, called for Muslims in New Zealand to also abstain from social media and the internet.

“That includes abstaining from excessive technology or mass advertising, from the anxiety to ‘have’ and of being attached to the mere temporal things we consume,” Mr Arafeh said in a Ramadan letter to members.

I actually wouldn’t mind a month off from the Internet.  Sounds wonderful.   But I suspect it would cause disproportionate stress and unhappiness in other lives.


The weather is fine so someone, somewhere in New Zealand will see the new moon tonight.


– Lincoln Tan, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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