Millions of Muslims around the world began 30 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset as Ramadan began on Thursday.
But this year, like Easter and Passover, followers will celebrate virtually due to Safer at Home orders.
“It’s going to be a sort of a community Zoom gathering, said Omar Ricci, spokesperson for the Islamic center of Southern California. “We’re still sort of figuring it out. It’s impacting the Muslim community. Ramadan is a big time for family and community to come together and share a meal and engage in social activities. But also it’s a big time for extra prayers, and extra engagement with God.”
The exact date of Ramadan varies from year to year. This year, most followers will observe starting tonight, and end on the evening of Saturday, May 23, though some will end the evening on Sunday, May 24.
During that time, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
At nighttime when the sun sets, we have a meal called an iftar, which this time of the year is around 7:30. “One of the things we do in Pasadena every year is we have an interfaith iftar with friends at All Saints. It gives us an opportunity to really have a strong social [bond] with them. This year of course, with the virus, we’re going to do it virtually.”
According to Ricci, one of the key purposes or reasons for fasting is to demonstrate control over one’s desires.
“So from sunrise to sunset, we abstain from food, from water and drink, from smoking, from sex for daylight hours essentially.”
Every hour put into fasting will receive blessings; yet fasting is only a small portion of Ramadan. Observers also commit to taking on a whole attitude toward people where they cannot argue or think ill of anyone. During the month Muslims must be kind, do good works, do charity, and think only good thoughts about the other people.
Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, a celebration of the end of the fasting month. This festival day marks the first day of the next month called Shawwal.
Eid al-Fitr is marked with a big feast, the exchanging of gifts and celebrations and is also known as the Festival of Breaking Fast.