Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins

  • 07/06/2016

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is underway and shorter days in New Zealand will mean Kiwi Muslims have an easier time fasting.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, meaning it occurs at different times year-to-year in the Western calendar. This year it runs from the June 6 to July 5.

The major feature of Ramadan is the fast and it's estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world will be fasting.

That means no eating from sunrise to sunset, but also no drinking -- not even water -- and no smoking.

In New Zealand there are about 50,000 Muslims, and their association says almost all will be fasting.

Kiwi Muslims will be having a slightly easier time though than their northern hemisphere counterparts, as Ramadan this year coincides with the summer and winter solstices.

For some countries in the northern hemisphere, the fast will be as long as 16 or 18 hours, Tahir Nawaz from the International Muslim Association of New Zealand says.

London's first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that fasting "won't be easy" and said he would miss coffee the most.

If you know anyone who's fasting for Ramadan, don't offer them any food, but you could say "Ramadan Mubarak" -- Happy Ramadan.