‘Fasted For Up To 20 Hours’ – M’sian Woman Shares Her Ramadan Journey While Living In Norway

"At that time, we fasted in Ramadan with the sun still shining brightly, even at midnight."
Every year, Muslims worldwide gear up for Ramadan, a sacred time of fasting, prayer, and self-reflection. For Azira Aziz, a Malaysian living in Oslo, Norway, Ramadan carries deep meaning, filled with memories of adjustment, strength, and a yearning for her native customs.

Adjusting to fasting in Oslo, Norway

Azira aziz in norway
Photo via Harian Metro & courtesy of Azira Aziz

In 2012, Azira faced a special Ramadan challenge: fasting for up to 20 hours in Oslo, Norway. Her family’s relocation was due to her husband’s job, introducing them to a different Ramadan experience compared to their familiar customs in Malaysia reported Harian Metro.

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Challenges of fasting for up to 20 Hours

Azira aziz in norway
Photo via Harian Metro & courtesy of Azira Aziz

One of the challenges Azira encountered was the variation in iftar timings due to differing mazhab (schools of thought) among mosques in Norway. This discrepancy led to confusion, with some mosques breaking their fast earlier while others did so later.

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“Some mosques break the fast early and some a little later, so we were quite confused. We had to have our pre-dawn meal (sahur) earlier and wait to break the fast until 10:45 PM.”

Nonetheless, Azira and her family adapted, adjusting their pre-dawn meals and fasting schedules accordingly.

Looking back on those early days, Azira remembers fasting under the never-ending daylight of the midnight sun, a phenomenon exclusive to areas near the Arctic Circle in summer.

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Despite the initial hurdles, Azira admires the perseverance of Norway’s Muslim community, who faithfully observed Ramadan for up to 20 hours each day from 2013 to 2020.

Changes over the years: Ramadan duration in Oslo, Norway

According to Azira, Muslims there were also given concessions for those who were unable to fast.

“We were allowed to follow Mecca, which means fasting for slightly shorter periods, around 17 hours. But for those who were able, they would continue fasting for the full 20 hours,” she said.

Azira said that this Ramadan, Muslims in Oslo are fasting for 14 hours, shorter than usual, from 4:41 AM to 6:14 PM because it is still winter. However, on the last day of Ramadan, April 9, they will fast for 17 hours, from 3:49 AM to 8:25 PM.

Azira highlights that although the initial adjustment was tough, over time, their Ramadan routines became familiar and routine.

Longing for Malaysian Ramadan vibes

Azira aziz and family in norway
Photo via Harian Metro & courtesy of Azira Aziz

Besides the challenges of fasting, Azira and her family missed the familiar Ramadan traditions from Malaysia.

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Despite the physical distance from Malaysia, Azira and her family remain deeply connected to their cultural roots, cherishing memories of past Ramadan celebrations spent amidst the vibrant atmosphere of their homeland.

“Whether we realise it or not, it’s been 11 years for our family in Norway, it would be a lie to say we don’t miss the Ramadan atmosphere back home. I miss the opportunity to break the fast, perform tarawih prayers and late-night meals at the mosque, visiting Ramadan bazaars, and so on because a variety of delicious dishes can be bought throughout this fasting month.”

Eid away from home: Celebrating in Norway

As Ramadan draws near, Azira and her family look forward to celebrating Eid al-Fitr in Norway. They eagerly anticipate joining the local Muslim community in Oslo for the festivities.

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While they miss the traditions of Malaysia, Azira stresses the significance of creating new customs and building bonds within their adopted country.

In extending warm wishes for Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, Azira extends heartfelt greetings to her loved ones in Malaysia, urging them to savour the flavours of home and remember their family in Norway during this joyous occasion.

‘Remember us in Norway while you enjoy the ketupat rendang,'”, she concluded.

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