Welcome to the high Holy Month of Ramadan.
I’ll never forget my first Ramadan Iftar.
I was invited to the breaking of the fast with a friend from college and his Muslim community at Oklahoma State back in the day. So much fun! And great food! Good times!
Today is the first full day of Ramadan, which falls in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Like our Easter and Lent, the date moves around because their calendar is 11 days shorter than ours.
It’s similar in a lot of ways to Lent but their traditions are stricter than ours. For example, for our fast we “give up something for Lent” to be reminded of Jesus’ fasting in the desert for his 40 days.
The Islamic fast is every day, and no food or drink of any kind from sunrise to sunset for the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan. Every day! The symbolism of the fast allows them to understand the suffering of others. They spend their time (just as we might in Lent) focused on Spiritual reflection, prayer, good deeds, time with family and friends, and reading the Qur’an.
They wake with the “Suhoor” or morning meal before sunrise. Then, fast all day and break the fast after sunset with the “Iftar” meal. Two meals a day for a month. Typically, the Iftar is a time to celebrate with friends and family and community which they often do during the holiday. You may remember we hosted a pot-luck Iftar last summer in Fellowship Hall to “Meet the Muslims Next Door.”
There are exemptions to the fasting ritual. It’s obligatory but there’s slack for children and the elderly, those who are sick, women who are pregnant or nursing babies, and if you’re traveling a long distance. If you’re sick during Ramadan, you’re obligated to make up the fasting at later time.
Just like our Lent, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to commit themselves to their faith and more to God.
The end of the holiday comes at first sight of the new moon in the sky—just like Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox. And, Muslims all over the world observe the end of Ramadan with a big festival called Eid al-Ritr—“The Breaking of the Fast.” Family and friends gather to thank Allah for the blessing, support, and strength during the month of fasting. The custom is to give alms at Eid, that is: donate to the poor and those in the margins.
Remember, we host the Ahmadiyya Muslims here in our church for their weekly worship called “Jumah Prayers” every Friday afternoon at 1pm. You’re always welcome to attend and you should try it, if you haven’t. It’s incredible!
But, cut ‘em some slack for the next 30 days and remember they’re skipping lunch!