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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  • waldopepper

    surely this ramadan thing must have health and safety ramifications here in new zealand. no food or drink all day can make people light headed, drowsy, and on occasion can cause fainting. if as an employer i have a duty to provide a safe workplace for my workers, how can i do that if i have muslim staff members who refuse to eat or drink water all day? particularly if machinery and the like is involved an a worksite ?

    • Andy

      I’m sure we can make an exception for Muslims.

  • WBC

    Please, let’s not offend Dame Susan. We cannot call this Ramadan, other culture do not follow this and may be offended, like the whole Christmas affront.

    Let’s just stick to safely calling it Fasting Month. Better to be safe then risk offending the wise Dame.

  • JeffW2

    Fasting? Food consumption goes up in the Muslim world during Ramadan.

    • Duchess of Pork

      Along with crime rates, assault, road rage and domestic violence. It’s known as Ramadan Rage and in Muslim countries governments prepare for the short-temperedness which causes the anti-social behaviour by boosting police patrols and carrying out public awareness campaigns.

  • oldmanNZ

    is only substain from dawn to dusk, so its like from 8 to 5pm in NZ.

    big breakfast, then after 5, huge dinner, sex and other things.

    Pretty much what most workers do when they skip lunch and work thru the day.

    • Carl

      Not good if you are in Scotland it stays light up there till very late.

      • oldmanNZ

        they may all start migrating here for ramadam

    • Whitey

      That’s a good point. This time of year I often don’t eat during daylight hours. I’ll have to drink extra beer to ensure I don’t accidentally observe Ramadan.

  • spanishbride

    Fasting can be good for the body so I have no issue with it. The rules regarding not drinking however concerns me as I would not want an employee who has had nothing to drink all day working for me. A family member had a Muslim employee working in their rest home who almost fainted.Her employer asked her to have a small drink of water and she refused.The employer wanted to send her home as she was clearly unwell and unable to function at her normal capacity but I don’t think legally the employer could do anything to make her go home even though the employee was putting the health and safety of the elderly at risk by being affected by the lack of fluid all day.

    • KatB

      I wonder what is required of the diabetic Muslims?

    • sandalwood789

      “…a Muslim employee working in their rest home…”

      I’m not an employer but if I were, I wouldn’t have hired her.

      If an employer is asked why they chose “Mary Bloggs” instead of her, they should just say that “Mary Bloggs was a “better fit” for the company.”
      A “better fit” is nice and general and can mean anything. Having a new employee who fits in really well with the other staff is extremely important.

      • spanishbride

        There would be no need to do that kind of thing if assimilation happened and religious practices were kept for home and mosque not brought to work. I warned a friend to be careful as I have read of so many Muslim employees who make demands and who sue employers in Australia and America. In America they can destroy a company because they have the deep pockets of C.A.I.R paying for their lawyer.

        My friend interviewed a woman who when she left the interview was picked up by her husband. My friend was looking out the window at the time and saw her pull a hijab out of her purse and put it on. The woman had not told my friend that she was Muslim so her wearing of the hijab and fasting and days off for religious holidays had not been discussed. Also as it was a cook’s position there had been no opportunity to ask her if she would prepare pork meals. If she had hired the woman not knowing she was Muslim she could have discovered on day one that the woman was going to wear a hijab to work and refuse to handle pork and bacon.

        My friend would have hired her if she had firstly been honest about being Muslim and secondly had been upfront about whether or not she could actually do the job without restrictions.Some may say she lied to get the job but if she assimilated there would be no need for an employer to avoid hiring her.

        • Richard

          Where ‘assimilation’ requires giving up one of the fundamental tenets or five pillars of belief, to fast during the holy month, I think that might be a pretty big deal.

          • spanishbride

            Christians aren’t even allowed bibles in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia. I think that is a pretty big deal don’t you?Muslims do not tolerate other religions but demand tolerance of their religion in non Islamic countries. There are no minority rights in Muslim countries.

          • Richard

            In my view your rhetoric is misleading. Yes, there is no religious pluralism in Saudi, but there are at least three christian churches right next door in Qatar, around a dozen in the UAE, large christian communities in both Bahrain and Kuwait, and in Indonesia, the world’s largest muslim-majority country, a huge bloody cathedral right in the middle of Jakarta.

            Yes i get the overall gist of your argument, when in Rome etc., and I know there are religious tensions in various countries (which is why I’m not a fan of religion).

            However making a generalisation that there are *no* minority rights in Muslim countries is unsupported by evidence in my view.

          • spanishbride

            From the Wiki:

            The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocratic monarchy in which Sunni Islam is the official state religion based on firm Sharia law and non-Muslims are not allowed to hold Saudi citizenship.[1] Children born to Muslim fathers are by law deemed Muslim, and conversion from Islam to another religion is considered apostasy and punishable by death. Blasphemy against Sunni Islam is also punishable by death, but the more common penalty is a long prison sentence. There have been no confirmed reports of executions for either apostasy or blasphemy in recent years.[2]

            A Saudi court sentenced a Palestinian man, Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy on November 17, 2015, for alleged blasphemous statements during a discussion group and in a book of his poetry.[3]

            Religious freedom is virtually non-existent.[4] The Government does not provide legal recognition or protection for freedom of religion, and it is severely restricted in practice. As a matter of policy, the Government guarantees and protects the right to private worship for all, including non-Muslims who gather in homes for religious practice; however, this right is not always respected in practice and is not defined in law.

            The Saudi Mutaween (Arabic: مطوعين‎‎), or Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (i.e., the religious police) enforces the prohibition on the public practice of non-Muslim religions. Sharia applies to all people inside Saudi Arabia, regardless of religion.

          • Richard

            I’m not sure what your point is – we agree the Saudi ruling elites are a very nasty bunch

          • kereru

            A bit late to comment but you have to understand that the Bible is deemed illegal in 52 nations of the world. The prevalence of churches in the Gulf States are mostly attended by expatriates. As in Indonesia, it is very difficult (impossible) to obtain a permit to build a church. Qatar can hardly be a beacon of openness towards the followers of Jesus Christ when they support terror groups such as ISIS.

            I take it that you’re aware that, while discrimination against Christian minorities is not entirely the preserve of Islam, the majority of Islamic regimes figure in almost all of the nations currently practising discrimination and persecution of Christians. Second to Islam are Communist administrations. Hindu nationalists and Buddhists figure far less. At the last count (taken in 2010) approximately 164,000 Christians died in captivity, and that is a conservative figure.


          • Richard

            Yes of course the christian churches are attended by expatriates – that’s obvious – all the locals go to the mosques.

            But you see the real live christians I know living in the middle east, in palestine (bethlehem as it happens), in Jakarta and Surabaya, go about their daily lives without hindrance. They don’t experience day to day hating from the muslims they live amongst.

            Whereas Nway Nway in Yangon (Rangoon) tells me “yes, it’s very hard being a muslim in Myanmar, I keep it quiet”

            There are good and bad in all societies and this whole “my religion is better than your religion” is just rubbish.

            If Jesus didn’t say “two wrongs don’t make a right” I guess he would have agreed with the sentiment

          • kereru

            ‘Anyway making a sweeping generalisation that there are simply no minority rights in Muslim countries is unsupported by evidence.’

            I work for an agency dealing with the persecuted church. Please could you give us the evidence?

      • PhantomsDoc

        You know, looks like the Muslim faith has fallen foul of OSH regulations.
        I wonder how they would look upon people fasting and putting themselves and others at risk in the workplace?

    • jaundiced

      Makes me wonder about Dubai. Most of the construction workers will be working in conditions which must be unbearable without fluids. In fact, I’d guess that you would die without drinking – the temperatures are 40C+. What happens to them?

  • sandalwood789

    We could really “play around” with these guys…….

    “Please report any sighting of the new moon for Ramadan….”

    “Hey – I saw it last night! I’m gonna report you to the “Ramadan Police” ‘cos I saw you have a burger this morning! “

  • Brian Anderson

    Your comment on people living within the arctic circle (not many at the antarctic) is an interesting problem for both Jews and SDAs who mark their Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday as, in those latitudes, you can go several weeks without a sunset at all during Arctic summer. The pragmatic solution adopted, I understand, is to take the sun’s lowest point as a nominal ‘sunset’.

  • Jaffa

    There shouldn’t be too many Muslims in the land of the midnight sun!

  • Mikex

    I was a bit curious as to why Mohammed brought in this so called “fasting” wink wink nod nod. Everything that Mohammed had came up with so far for his followers was always to the advantage of Mohammed. Quick research shows it was an idea picked up from other existing tribes who had a bit of thing about the moon.

    “Mohammed adjusted his ceremonies to fit the religious rituals and customs of Oas and Khazraj, the two tribes from al-Medina who backed Mohammed in his wars against the Arabians.”

    He desperately needed their support when he arrived in Medina so he could build up his team members and then raid, rape and pillage to his hearts content. He eventually ruled the roost in the whole peninsula and the rest is history.

    • spanishbride

      Yes too many religious traditions actually came about for reasons other than God. Christmas for example was a pagan festival renamed in order to help bring Pagans into the fold. I read a great story a while back about a monk who had a cat that got up to mischief so he put a leash on it and it would sit beside him as he taught his students. By the time he died a number of his students had started teaching and they too would have a cat tied up beside them as they taught. Eventually an entire theological explanation was written to explain the importance of having a cat when teaching.

      • KatB

        I was just going to mention the cat story and saw it in your post. It’s applicable to a lot of things in life, we start doing something for a valid reason and when the reason has gone we carry on doing it because we’ve lost sight of the initial need. I used to find that in procedures at work, when you’d question the need for doing some stuff, they’d say they weren’t sure why they did it that way, on further investigation, sometimes it was found it was no longer needed to be done.

  • Mikex

    I seem to recollect that in some third world countries that I have been in Ramadan was something for the middle classes to observe. The poor souls digging ditches in the midday sun would have died if they did not drink water and as a consequence ignored the fast.

    • andrewo

      When doing construction work in Muslim countries we always provide a discretely positioned water fountain on site where the guys can get a drink without it being obvious to all.
      What the eye can’t see, the heart can’t grieve about.

      • Richard

        Is the correct answer :-)

  • Crowgirl

    Muslims in Canada must struggle – it is very early in the summer here but it is light from about 5am until at least 10/10.30pm. In fact it’s not been fully dark until about 11pm currently. This will only get worse as summer progresses.

  • Oh Please

    They know how to have a good time, eh? “Come round to my place for a fast”. Shall I bring anything?

    • Richard

      If you actually knew any muslims you would know about the iftar which is exactly as you describe, a breaking of the fast shared with friends and family from maghreb (dusk) onwards, along with huge charitable iftars providing food for the less fortunate

      • Oh Please

        I actually know many muslims. Feel free to sign up for a sense of humour.

        • PersonOfColor:WHITE

          Humour is haram….LOL

        • Richard

          i’m sorry your “humour” seemed more like sarcasm

      • Duchess of Pork

        Binge eating can be a bit of a problem though as the indigestion stats from hospital emergency departments demonstrate.

  • Chris Bell

    Um – isn’t the new moon impossible to see? Check out:

    Or is this a special muslim moon? I’m confused, please enlighten…

    • PersonOfColor:WHITE

      sorry….should have made this a reply….
      The actual moment when it becomes ‘new’ is still pretty fleeting. But that’s not what they are talking about: seeing it in that phase…. Today we can just look up the ephemeris, but I suppose in the 9th century it was a special task for the Imam…need to have some prestige….

  • PersonOfColor:WHITE

    The actual moment when it becomes ‘new’ is still pretty fleeting. But that’s not what they are talking about: seeing it in that phase…. Today we can just look up the ephemeris, but I suppose in the 9th century it was a special task for the Imam…need to have some prestige….

  • spanishbride
  • Rick H

    Apart from the fact that starving yourself can cause you to “imagine things”

    This seems a bit like Groundhog Day, where the future is determined by the sighting of a “shadow/new moon”?

  • Andy

    Most people just change patterns by staying awake most of the night gorging and smoking if they have that habit.

  • Richard

    In places close to the arctic circle they’re quite pragmatic and just go with the timings of the nearest muslim-majority country, or whatever the timing is in Mecca, something like that.

  • spanishbride
    • Abdullah

      That is an ‘interesting’ article. SB since you quoted that Ramadhan timetable from masjid at taqwa, you should look to the right of that timetable – the advice given for Ramadhan. You will find out that article contradict what we muslims practised.

      The article mentions about pregnant women, breastfeed etc. Any pregnant muslims, breastfeeding, travellers or those of manual labourers, fasting is not compulsory upon them. They have to make up the 30 days with another 30 days of fasting anytime during the year. If not possible, feed half of the daily consumed food to poor people is suffice.

      The 60 days quoted in that article is if you were to break fast for no reason. That article is indeed misleading.

      Fasting is not something new, indeed it was also the practise of earlier prophets. The best form of fasting is done by King David – he fasted every alternate days.

      • spanishbride

        Hi Abdullah :) I guess it is difficult to state exactly what Islam believes since there are so many different sects. It is like with Christianity. I was brought up Catholic and their rules are not exactly the same as Anglicans for example. All interpret the bible differently and the Koran is also interpreted differently by different sects and Imams. It is not surprising that the rules for Ramadan are not consistent across the world.

        • Abdullah

          I disagree with what you have said there. There might be slight differences in the act of worship but the rules with regards to the 5 pillars of Islam are firm and clear in the Quran and teaching of the prophet. A muslim is a muslim because she/he follows the Quran and Prophet teaching.

          I believe that article is written to mislead or the author is lacking of knowledge.

          2:185 The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.