The following article from Saturday’s Dagens Nyheter was a joint effort in translation by our Swedish correspondent LN, Google language tools, and me. Since I did the final retouch, trying to reconcile the remaining peculiarities in the text, any mistakes are probably mine:
“The Ramadan Feeling is Growing in Sweden”
Ramadan is becoming more and more recognized in Sweden. Grocery shops advertise cheap dates and school-study-days (free-days) are introduced. Now begins the Muslims’ fasting month.
On Monday starts — probably — the Muslim fasting-month Ramadan. On Monday evening, many Muslims in Sweden sit connected to the internet or in front of the television with their home-country channel switched on in order to get the message that the new moon has been sighted. In Sweden, the majority listen for the message that comes from the Stockholm’s mosque. There the imams have come together to bring information about the new moon.
When the message comes they will gather on Monday for night prayer, and the day after they must get up early to rush to eat before the fast begins at dawn.
During the Friday prayers before Ramadan more and more came; the men went straight into the mosque and the women took the side entrance to go up to the gallery. Those who came finally have to conduct their prayers at the entrance or outside. The imam spoke of Ramadan as an opportunity to do good deeds and to read the entire Koran during the course of the month.
23-year-old Samira Chaib, and Omar Mustafa Osman Hirzi and Sofia Aouniti, who are 22 years old, were at the prayer. Afterwards, under the mosque dome, says they about their expectations for Ramadan.
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“Each year, I want to do my best during Ramadan,” says Sofia Aouniti. “I read the entire Koran at least once.”
Omar Mustafa says he “recharges his batteries”.
“I get a stronger inner spirit, which I then rely on for the rest of the year.”
For all four, it is important every night to break the fast together with the family.
“Most important in Ramadan is to invite friends and family as much as possible,” said Samira Chaib.
Osman Hirzi boosts his morale by knowing what it is like for people, for example, in the Third World, who do not have food for days.
Ramadan is about self-control. Individuals should control their lives and resist temptation.
“Under normal circumstances, you are so influenced by advertising and pressure from friends,” says Omar Mustafa. “During Ramadan I learn that I have the power to choose how I should live my life, and that I am not wasting my time.”
All four have lived their entire lives in Sweden even though they have their roots in different countries. They think it is becoming more and more Ramadan-friendly in Sweden. Traders now note the Muslims as customers. Bargains are available in the shops and telephone companies bombard them with offers. This feels good to them. In contrast, there is a lack of attention from the municipalities and town district councils where the majority of the inhabitants are Muslims.
In Apelgård School in Rosengård in Malmö it is also Ramadan, however, and very noticeable. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Kenneth Sandelin says that 65 of about 360 students have been notified that they should not eat school food. Mostly it is the older students who fast. Sometimes it also happens that they become tired and lose concentration in the afternoon.
“Maybe a little shorter cords, but they are concerned with the school.”
Students may apply for leave up to three days to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which concludes the fasting month.
Even at Hjulsta School in northern Stockholm, many students celebrate Ramadan. Of the school’s 580 students, more than half are Muslims. During Eid al-Fitr, the teachers will have a ‘competence-expanding day’ when the students are free. During the month of Ramadan also attention is drawn to it by the teachers in the classrooms.
“It is part of our approach to connect to students’ daily lives, their background and culture,” says Assistant Principal Mona Säw.
She says that parents do not usually allow the children to participate if they are not involved in school management.
Osman, Omar, Sabina and Sofia recall how they wanted to fast when they were younger, but how their parents said no.
“My father came to school every afternoon and deceived me to take a break in the fasting,” laughs Osman Hirzi.