Hot summer weather is adding a few new wrinkles to Ramadan celebrations in Ottawa this year, according to Ottawa Muslim Association spokesperson Maha Hammoud.

Ramadan, which began Friday, is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, commemorating the revelation of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad.

In the weeks leading up to Ramadan, lectures at Ottawa mosques offer insight into the meaning of Ramadan, question and answer sessions, and practical advice on observances. Among the advice this year were tips on staying hydrated in the August heat while still abstaining from food and drink during the day.

Permissible solutions include taking cold showers and gargling with water, Hammoud said.

She also pointed out that Ramadan is more than just fasting: “You’re refraining from food but you’re also refraining from backbiting, idle talk, and things that would take your focus away from the worship of God. It’s all about self-restraint.”

Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, when friends and family gather for large meals and sometimes exchange gifts.

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