WARSAW – In Europe, Ramadan is now shifting from the shorter winter days of fasting to the much longer and warmer summer days. The holy month this year also coincides with the solstice, June 21st, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
This leaves Muslims in northern latitudes such as Poland facing dauntingly long days of fasting which, in fact, lasts much longer than from sunrise to sunset compared with Malaysia.
In the month of Ramadan, Muslims in Poland as well as other part of European regions can thus expect to fast for approximately more than 18 hours from about 2 am to 9 pm similar to London or Paris compared to only 13 hours of fasting in Kuala Lumpur.
As such, the estimated 250 Malaysians among the approximately 35,000 Muslims in Poland are facing this unique situation as this year’s Ramadan falls during the long days of summer.
“The longer hours of fasting is a challenge for me in many ways,” said Nur Syaza Fahari a fifth year medical student at Warsaw Medical University. Another Malaysian medical student, Anas Alwi said, “As I am a student, it is tough for me to cook for myself, study and to get my work done while I’m fasting till 9pm.”
Most of the Malaysians in Poland are students studying in the main cities of Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan and Lublin.
I was there recently and joined the breaking of fast or iftar function held by the Malaysian embassy here.
The Malaysian Embassy in Warsaw conducted several Iftar programs at the two mosques in Warsaw (Wilanow and Blue City) and hosted an Iftar for the Malaysian community and other Muslim guests at Rumah Malaysia.
Malaysian ambassador to Poland Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the events were co-hosted with the management of the two mosques and thanked for the kind sponsors coming from Malaysia and other places.
The Iftar programs at both mosques in Warsaw witnessed the participation of more than 300 people. A briefing session with Malaysian diaspora and students was also held at Rumah Malaysia by the ambassador on the current issues back home after the iftar program.
Ahmad Fadil also extended the Embassy’s appreciation and gratitude to the kind assistance and Iftar contributions from the Office of Governor of Sarawak, Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and Malaysian individuals in carrying out the Iftar programs successfully.
To-date, there are approximately 200 Malaysian students studying in Poland, mostly in the field of medicine, business and information technology. In terms of bilateral relations, Malaysia and Poland have always enjoyed friendly relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971.
Poland set up its Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in 1977 while the Malaysian Embassy was established in Warsaw in 1978. Poland is also a part of European Union which celebrates the 60th anniversary this year.