Summer heat adds hardship to Ramadan fast

Photo gallery: Opening days of holy month.

Ramadan Jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Ramadan Jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hundreds of millions of Muslims across the Middle East sweated their way through the start of Ramadan on Wednesday last week, beginning a month-long daylight fast in sweltering summer heat.

With temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) in some countries, governments and religious authorities sought to lighten the holy month's burden by shortening work days, granting exemptions from the fast and even setting the clock back an hour.
Frequent power outages in places like Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and the Gaza Strip compounded the struggle to give up food, drink and cigarettes during the searing 15-hour day.On the lunar calendar, the Islamic month of Ramadan begins around 11 days earlier each year, which now puts it in the long, hot days of summer.Under Islamic law, travelers, the sick, children and the elderly are exempted from fasting.