Muslims across the Midlands are observing the holy month of Ramadan, a time marked by fasting, prayer and charitable acts.
Ramadan is considered the holiest month because Muslims believe that during Ramadan the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, but because the calendar is based on the lunar system, the date falls at different times of the year. This year, Ramadan began July 9 and will end Aug. 7, with the festival of Eid al- Fitr.
During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from food and drink during daylight hours, remain celibate during the day and avoid smoking. They strive to be more patient, control their tempers and refrain from obscene language.
Muslims read extensively in the Qur’an, with some attempting to read a chapter a night during the special nighttime prayers, called Taraweeh. It is a time to reach inward, to dwell in prayer and make amends as well as reach out to the poor and homeless. In the evening, they gather at mosques to break the fast together.
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This year, Muslims are coming together for a community Eid dinner in August. There, the fast will be broken by a sumptuous meal, games and the exchange of gifts. The festival is particularly meaningful for adolescent children, who attempt to fast when they are 12 or 13, said Farah Hussain.
“Kid show interest and they are eager to fast,” she said. Often, they will embark on small fasts, still eating a small meal at midday but continuing the fast into the afternoon and evening hours. “It is just an incentive for the younger ones to get in the habit.”