In the pre-dawn darkness, Dr. Sofia Shakir, chief resident at Cook County’s
John Stroger Hospital, will rise to say her morning prayers and eat a small
meal before heading to the hospital by 7 a.m. to begin a long day of
rounds, lectures and paperwork.

Once the sun rises, Shakir, a Muslim, will take no food, no water, and —
perhaps most importantly for a young doctor working an average of 80 hours
a week — no coffee until the sun sets, because it is Ramadan, the Muslim
holy month.

For young Muslim physicians such as Shakir, 32, the requirements of
Ramadan, with its sunrise-to-sunset fast, spiritual self-examination and
emphasis on increased prayer, add new demands to their already hectic


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