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Muslim refugees prepare to observe Ramadan away from home
The holy month of Ramadan, celebrated by Muslims around the world, will begin Monday. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Fasting and giving thanks from sunrise to sunset is always challenging, but it becomes even more difficult without a house, job and other creature comforts of a familiar homeland.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims will celebrate Ramadan in refugee camps this year, observing a sacred ritual during one of the bleakest times in their lives, as Open Democracy reported.

"Our faith is all we have left and we are not going to give that up, too," said Zaida, a Syrian mother of three boys.

During the holy month of Ramadan, which various sources say begins either Monday or Tuesday this year, Muslims focus on fasting, prayer and family. They start the day with a meal before sunrise and break their daylong fast after sunset. The evening meal is often a social and spiritual gathering for worshippers.

"Overall, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to exercise self-discipline and restraint both spiritually and physically," The Telegraph reported.

Refugee camp leaders in Greece told Open Democracy that they would ensure meals were available before sunrise and after sunset to Ramadan observers. Medical staff will also have a night shift to accommodate Muslim refugees.

But Muslims will still have to adapt to make the holiday feel normal within the confines of a refugee camp.

"Men admit that they do not pray every day in the makeshift mosque because they cannot wash properly," the article noted.

Even Muslim refugees who have resettled into new homes could struggle this season, as they remember the Ramadans they spent in communities now torn apart by war, Canada's Metro News reported.

"We cannot deny that some of them will be homesick, thinking about those relatives they left behind," said Mohammed Mostefa, president of the Assunnah Muslims Association, to Metro News.

In 2013, the U.N. Refugee Center, UNHCR, released a photo series on what it's like to spend Ramadan as a refugee. The photos depicted individuals and families who had lost everything and remained willing to make sacrifices for their faith.

"Many of the people interviewed still placed an emphasis on giving thanks and helping those less fortunate than themselves," the Huffington Post reported at the time.
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