Thousands prepare for fast

01:00, Jul 16 2012
Faridah Tup
COUNTING THE HOURS: Faridah Tup is happy that the days will be short during Ramadan, when 36,000 Muslims in New Zealand will cease to eat, drink, smoke or have sex during daylight hours for a month from Friday. Photo: MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Faridah Tup will be one of more than a billion people worldwide who will stop eating during daylight hours from Friday.

July 20 will mark the start of Ramadan and a month of fasting for the 36,000 Muslims throughout New Zealand.

During the month, Muslims will abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity between dawn and sunset.

Mrs Tup is part of a small Muslim community in Nelson, and although they do not have a place of worship, many of them still take part in the practice of fasting.

Fasting, or "sawm", in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.

The others are the "shahadah" (declaration of faith), "salat" (the five daily prayers), "zakat" (alms giving) and the "hajj" (pilgrimage).


Mrs Tup, who teaches at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, said Ramadan in New Zealand was a different experience to the four years she spent in Brunei, teaching English in an Islamic school.

There the observance of Ramadan "was full of life, buzzing".

However, she was grateful that for this year's Ramadan the days would be shorter.

When she first came to New Zealand in 1998, Ramadan was at Christmas time, and not only were the days long and hot, but everyone else was enjoying the festive food.

"It was hard, we had to get up at 3am and we couldn't eat again or drink until 9pm."

But while this year would be easier to fast than others, because of the short winter days, she said it was still hard getting up before sunrise to eat breakfast.

"You try waking up at 4am and trying to eat."

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate with Eid-ul-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of fasting.

According to the 2006 census more than 36,000 people in New Zealand affiliate with Islam.

Of them, 77 per cent were born overseas.

The Nelson Mail