In lieu of food and water this August, Muslims worldwide will feast on revived inner peace during the daytime.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, began around Aug. 1, depending on when the sun rose on any practicing part of the world.
Observance of this 30-day holy ceremony asks Muslims to fast, refraining from allowing any food or liquid (water included) to pass their lips between sunrise and sunset. Along with this, Muslims must abstain from intimacy with their partners and other luxuries. This is a time for those in observance to offer precedence to the mind’s natural yearning for knowledge and reason over physical needs of the body.
“God only asks of us what we can already do,” explains Sheikh Mohammed Kadhim, of the Ahlulbayt Mosque in Brooklyn, in regards to the physical demands. “If someone is weak or sick, then it’s not possible for them to fulfill the fast.”
This year’s Ramadan falls in the dog days of summer, which could be problematic for those living in America, where many areas just broke free of a heat wave. Here in New York, where temperatures might creep up to the triple digits yet again, no food or water for an entire day when the sun is gleaming above could be dangerous.
Usually, the fast is broken with a nightly ceremonial meal, iftar, but if a Muslim is feeling faint or sick from the heat, it is advised to break the fast early.
“If you are too weak to fast, then God is not asking it of you,” assured Kadhim. “You can fast another day to make up for a broken day if need be.”
Although it is not advised to push oneself past a threshold for the holy month, there is a sacrifice involved similar to Yom Kippur or Lent. No food or drink for around 14 hours may sound preposterous to some, yet most of the 1.5 billion practicing Muslims take the month in stride.
“It’s been such a part of my life that I barely notice it anymore,” admitted an elderly unidentified practicing man outside the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque. “I look forward to this time every year. It’s a time of tranquility and thought.”