As a Malaysian Muslim living in Norway, the long days make fasting hard for Farah Elwani Abdul Rani. Local media The Star has spoken to her about how she manages to keep up with her traditions surrounding Ramadan while living abroad.
Farah Elwani Abdul Rani has been living in Asker city in Norway for over a decade with her Norwegian husband and their two children. She works as a preschool assistant and interpreter and she takes pride in observing the holy month and cherishes Ramadan and its traditions despite the challenges it brings in a country like Norway with the long days.
Waiting until dusk to break her fast hard especially when the day is over 18 hours long due to the late sunset. According to the Muslim Pro app Ramadan calendar, for yesterday, sahur (pre-dawn meal) must be taken before 2.53 am while iftar (break the fast) was at 9.07 pm in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Farah Elwani however makes it work and says, “When I first started fasting in Norway years ago, it was quite tough especially as it was summer and I had a breastfeeding baby. My Muslim friends here then advised me that if we feel that we can’t make it, then we can follow the fasting hours of Mecca, which I confirmed with an imam in Oslo. So when I feel like I can’t make it, that’s what I would do. Islam doesn’t force us to do what is beyond our capability.”
Farah Elwani is very proud of the Ramadan culture in Malaysia and she is missing it in Norway. She explains that Ramadan in Norway is not so much different than other months but in Malaysia, it is filled with open-air bazaars, family gatherings, and food like kuih sampan and asam pedas. Farah Elwani also keeps her culture alive in Norway through Malay food which her family is very fond of.
Farah Elwani explains to The Star that she will not be having a Hari Raya open house this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s sad because my house was a place that friends from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore would visit but this year I will not be inviting anyone. I will just video call my family back in Sitiawan. I’m usually at work during Hari Raya so I will ask my boss if I can have a five-minute break to say hi to my family and ask for maaf ampun (forgiveness), ” she says.
Farah Elwani had to cancel her travel plans this year but she is hoping to come home to Malaysia next year.