One of the most sacred of Muslim holidays, Ramadan, began Friday, April 1. During this holy month of spiritual introspection, which includes cleansing and charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others, thousands of Muslims across Central Brooklyn will sustain up to 16 hours without food and water.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar that’s based on the phases of the moon. The lunar calendar falls short of the solar calendar by 11 days. As a result, Ramadan doesn’t start on the same date each year and instead, over time, passes through all the seasons. Ramadan is celebrated as the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of what became the Quran.
An estimated 800,000 Muslims in New York City, many of them in Brooklyn, will wake up well before sunrise to eat a small meal called “suhoor” before the fast begins. Each day’s fast is broken with a meal known as “iftar.” Traditionally, a date is eaten to break the fast. The daily routine includes special Ramadan prayers and Qur’an recitations at night lasting from 9:30pm to 11:30pm. Besides fasting, Muslims will also commit to abstaining from intimate relations with their spouses and worldly affairs, and will read the entire Qur’an.
The conclusion of Ramadan is marked with a major celebration known as Eid al-Fitr, the Feast of Fast-Breaking. It starts the day after Ramadan ends. Eid al-Fitr includes special prayers and meals with friends and relatives, and gifts are often exchanged. This year, the three-day celebration of Eid al-Fitr will begin on Thursday, May 1.
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