Long Summer Days Challenging For San Diego Muslims Fasting For Ramadan
San Diego Muslims began fasting from sunup to sundown Saturday for Ramadan. The Islamic holy month follows the lunar cycle, meaning it falls on the calendar earlier each year. In recent years Muslims have had to fast during some of the hottest, longest days of the year.
San Diego Muslims won't eat or drink for more than 14 hours a day until July 27.
Amina Sheik Mohamed is a senior manager for UC San Diego and County Health and Human Services' Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention program. She's advising worshippers to consider their health when they break their fasts each night.
"It's a good idea to drink enough water," Mohamed said. "But also, it's a good idea to eat fruits and vegetables like melons, oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers and celery – those are some good foods that will help them with dehydration."
Mohamed is circulating materials that also urge Muslims to make their traditional meals healthier with leaner oils and meats.
Muslims in northern areas like Scandinavia, where days are much longer, are fasting for around 20 hours a day. Imams are discussing how to advise worshippers in those countries next year, when Ramadan falls on the summer solstice. In some cities, the sun won't set at all that day.
Muslims are increasingly spread throughout the world as refugees and immigrants flee religious and political tension in Africa and the Middle East.
The Association of Religion Data Archives, which conducts a census on religion each decade, estimates there are nearly 22,000 Muslims in San Diego County. But Islamic leaders in the county believe the number is closer to 140,000, citing recent arrivals from Iraq, Iran and East Africa.