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Ramadan fast observed despite challenge

The practice of fasting during Ramadan is not only obligatory for a Muslim like Bahetikhan Gahep, but it is also a time to adjust her body's health.

The 63-year-old Kazak, who lives on a farm in Tacheng in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has fasted during Ramadan all of her life and says she will continue to do so as long as her health allows.

"Ramadan is the time to get rid of the harmful substances that have been ingested into the body, so it is good for the body's health," she said.

The practice of fasting during Ramadan is common among the Kazak elders in Tacheng, said Jenyes Jumax, owner of the farm.

"But for younger generations, many choose not to fast because they have to work hard during the daytime," he said.

Rexidan Abulide, a 54-year-old Uygur in Urumqi, said she had fasted for several days after the start of Ramadan, but her poor health prevented her from sticking to the practice.

Abulide had just undergone surgery before the start of Ramadan. Fasting for more than 10 hours without taking any drinks has posed a huge challenge to her health.

"The practice is a way to pay tribute to Allah," she said.

Mohamed Gaderoghli, 19, a student from Afghanistan at Xinjiang Normal University, in Urumqi, said he had fasted on campus since the start of Ramadan in June.

A devout Muslim, Gaderoghli said it was not that difficult to fast on the campus. The school canteen would not serve food during times when Muslims are not allowed to eat.

Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims observe it as a month of fasting. The annual observance, which is regarded as one of the most important foundations of Islam, lasts 29 to 30 days based on visual sightings of the crescent moon.

Zhang Quansheng, deputy director of the overseas student management office at the university, said the teachers respect the period of fasting for Muslim students.

"We are worried about their performance because some students who fast fall asleep during classes. But we will not interfere because it is part of their religious beliefs," he said.

Zhang said the university advises Han Chinese students and other non-Muslim students to respect the practice.

"Having students of another religion alongside creates a more open-minded attitude," he said.

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