Muslims around the world are fasting during the month of Ramadan. They refrain from eating or drinking from sunup to sundown for the next month, and devote themselves to prayer, hospitality, and service. It is the tradition to break the fast with a special meal, called an iftar, and to invite family, friends and neighbors to join in celebrating. For many mosques and Muslim communities, Ramadan offers an opportunity to welcome non-Muslim neighbors to an iftar meal. Two local groups have announced community gatherings on Saturday, July 20. The Muslim Community Association, located at 3003 Scott Blvd. in Santa Clara, will hold an Open House at 6:00 pm. There is no cost for the meal, but reservations must be made online. For more information, contact Sana Ben-Harchache, Outreach Coordinator at email@example.com.
On that same evening, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Milpitas is holding an iftar beginning at 7:00 pm at the Baitul Baseer Mosque, located at 926 Evans Road, Milpitas. Again, the meal is free, but reservations must be made online.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the “Five Pillars,” or essential practices of Islam. The others include the declaration of faith (shahada), daily prayer (salat), charitable giving (zakat), and pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). Because the Muslim calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, rather than the sun, the observance of Ramadan moves around the year, providing a particular challenge for those fasting during the long days of summer.
The lunar calendar presents an additional challenge in determining exactly when Ramadan (or any Muslim holiday) should take place. Traditionally, the beginning of each new month requires the sighting of the new moon. Now that Islam is a global religion, that event can happen at different times around the world. There are some who argue that the traditional method of actually sighting the moon is to be preferred, while others suggest that in this era of sophisticated understanding of the movement of the moon, it is possible to calculate when the holiday will take place.
This year, Ramadan began in North America on July 9, while for Europe, much of the Middle East, and Asia, it began on July 10. Likewise, the date for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan, will vary by a day. You can learn more about the calculations at moonsighting.com or at the website for the North American Fiqh Council.
The appropriate greeting during this month is “Ramadan Mubarak” (a blessed Ramadan), or “Ramadan Kareem” (a noble or generous Ramadan).