If you live in southern Brooklyn, you will most likely encounter someone observing Ramadan this month.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is the holiest time for Muslims. Ramadan commemorates the first time the Quran (Islam’s sacred text) was revealed to the prophet Muhammad, a moment also known as the Night of Power. The holiday is a month dedicated to prayer, self-reflection, giving to charity, and of course, fasting from dawn-to-dusk.
For the uninitiated, here are six need-to-know facts about Ramadan:
- This year Ramadan started on the evening of June 5 and will end on the evening of July 5.
- During Ramadan, Muslims typically wake up before dawn to eat the Suhur, which means breakfast. After a full day, Ramadan observers typically break their day-long fast with dates and water or a yogurt drink, then dive in to the Iftar, or a full course meal usually shared with family and friends.
- During the entire month, Muslims will fast–or refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual activity–every day from sunrise to sunset. The fast is a spiritual and social experience, meant to curb distraction, instill a sense of humility and compassion, and focus on spiritual development. Sometimes, Muslims will also give up other habits, like chewing gum, expressing anger or jealousy, gossiping, and complaining.
- Fasting (sawm) is only one of the five pillars of Islam, that include Affirmation (Shahadah), Praying (Salat) , giving to charity (Zakat), and pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
- Keep an eye out for the three-day celebration and feast the end of Ramadan, called Eid al-Fitr, or “the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.”
- Be sure to wish your neighbors a Ramadan Mubarak, which means “Blessed Ramadan”
And of course, Ramadan Mubarak to all of our Muslim readers. Post pictures of your Iftar feasts below!