Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of daily fasts and nightly feasts (iftars) with family, friends, community and charity. The last ten days are the most important.
Ramadan ends with the feast of Eid al-Fitr which is shared with members from outside the community.
Muslim families gather over Ramadan in much the same way that United States families gather at Thanksgiving, families around the world gather at secular Christmas, Asian families gather at Lunar New Year, and Christian families gather at Easter.
There is a lot of prayer, but also a lot of fun with friends and family. It should also be noted that Islam is one of the great religions of Africa, so many African Diaspora families celebrate Ramadan.
Eid Mubarak”Blessed holiday
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, so the dates are movable in the Gregorian calendar used around the world today.
Ramadan 2023 starts with the first sightings of the crescent moon on Wednesday, March 22 and ends at sundown on Thursday, April 20, 2023.
In Islamic belief, Ramadan commemorates the first revelation of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, to the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
During Ramadan, the pious fast during daylight. We are not supposed to consume anything at all.
We rise before dawn to eat and drink a meal we call “sahoor.” It’s big enough to make it through the day.
By tradition, we break the fast by eating an odd number of fresh dates with a few sips of water. Later we eat a big dinner, called “iftar,” in gatherings with family and friends.
Being based on the cycles of the moon, the dates of Ramadan change every year. When Ramadan comes during shorter winter days, the fast is briefer. When Ramadan comes in the long, hot summer days, the fast is longer too.
Fasting is one of the five pillars, or core practices, of Islam. Many religious practices around the globe give up some worldly thing in order to become closer to God.
It turns out fasting is actually good for humans. At first you feel hungry and grouchy, but after a few days your metabolism changes. Your body burns off fat and then starts burning muscle. A rise in endorphins, one of the body’s natural hormones, makes you feel good and more alert. Your body also dissolves toxins stored in body fat.
The 27th day of Ramadan is Laylat Al Qadr, the Night of Power when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The main tradition on this night is to read. How beautiful is that?
On the last day of Ramadan, we prepare to celebrate with the Eid al-Fitr holiday feast. It’s traditional to share the Eid al-Fitr feast with non-Muslims. By breaking bread together, we realize how similar we are.
We are Muslim Too
Ramadan, the sacred month of Muslim community, is April 1-30 this year. The faithful fast during the day, and break the fast with a celebratory “Iftar” (break-fast) meal at day’s end. Ramadan is all about family, friends, faith, community and charity. The pandemic years have been hard because we couldn’t gather for this pious time of sharing and giving. The Eid al-Fitr feast that ends Ramadan is epic. If you are invited, go. It’s an honor.
Many of us learn about the great European civilizations of the Romans and the Renaissance, but there was one more. Islamic Spain was equal in its advancements and influence. It was one of the pinnacles of human civilization in its time, and we don’t get to modernity without it. But the importance of Islamic Spain is just not taught in the USA.
We have Islam in the Caribbean because it is one of the great religions of Mother Africa. Haitian Revolution leader Dutty Boukman was called “Boukman” because he was a man of the book, The Koran. Even after 500 years of European colonization, some Caribbeans still learn to speak Arabic at home.
One of the interpretations of the Diana, “E – le – le – le…,” the call that starts a Salsa song, is the call to prayer because in the Caribbean and Mother Africa, singing, drumming and dancing is how we pray. Happy Eid! ☪️