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Amidst Sweltering Heat, Sierra Leone’s Faithful Observe Ramadan with Resilience and Hope

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Freetown, Sierra Leone (TAE) – As the melodious call of the Azaan reverberates through the streets of Sierra Leone, signaling the time for prayer, it also ushers in another day of fasting for the Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan. In a country grappling with soaring temperatures, the act of fasting from dawn until dusk takes on an added layer of challenge.

For individuals like Fatmata, a local fruit vendor, the commitment to observe this religious duty is unwavering, despite the relentless heat. “The sun’s intensity forces us to seek shade and momentarily pause our livelihoods, but our faith and obligations guide us through,” she shared, highlighting the personal struggles faced by many during this period.

This year, the challenges of Ramadan have been intensified by an early-season heatwave across West Africa, a phenomenon linked by scientists in February to the broader crisis of global warming. With daytime temperatures regularly surpassing the 40°C mark, the faithful are finding the Ramadan experience markedly different.

To explore the intersection of the climate crisis and religious observance, Africanews consulted Islamic Scholar, Dr. Ahmad Ramadan Jalloh. Dr. Jalloh drew from Islamic texts, mentioning a Hadith that speaks of the trials of intense heat and the promised divine reward for those who persevere in their fast. “Such teachings offer solace and motivation for us, particularly now, as we face these unprecedented conditions,” he noted, emphasizing the spiritual resilience of the community.

The significance of this year’s Ramadan is further underscored by the World Meteorological Organization’s confirmation that 2023 was the warmest year on record. This alarming trend brings to the forefront the urgent need for environmental stewardship and climate action.

In response to the health risks posed by the extreme heat, medical professionals like Dr. Abdul Khaliq Kalokoh are advocating for practical measures to stay hydrated and healthy. Recommendations include consuming water-rich fruits and ensuring adequate water intake between Iftar and Suhoor, the meals marking the beginning and end of each day’s fast.

As Sierra Leone’s Muslim community continues to navigate the challenges of fasting amid a climate crisis, their dedication serves as a poignant testament to the intertwined nature of faith, perseverance, and environmental consciousness. The shared experiences of this Ramadan not only highlight the physical and spiritual trials faced but also the collective resilience and hope that sustain the faithful through times of adversity.

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