Muslims begin Ramadan observance

Nightly gatherings to be held at Islamic Center of Topeka

Imam Omar Hazim will lead services during the month of Ramadan at the Islamic Center of Topeka, 1115 S.E. 27th. (Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal)

Muslims in Topeka and around the world are scheduled to observe the month of Ramadan beginning the evening of Friday, May 26, and concluding at sunset on Sunday, June 25.

 

Ramadan includes five “pillars”: fasting from food and drink from dawn to dusk each day; praying five times daily; reading through the Quran; increased acts of charity; and refraining from sensual pleasures from dawn to dusk.

Occurring during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan commemorates the time when the Quran, Islam’s holy book, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.

Imam Omar Hazim, of the Islamic Center of Topeka, 1115 S.E. 27th, said local Muslims will gather at sundown nightly to break their daily fast and read from the Quran.

Hazim said a highlight will occur when two young men — one from New York City and the other from Chicago — will visit the Islamic Center of Topeka and recite the entire Quran from memory during the month of Ramadan. As a result of having memorized the Quran, Hazim said, they are known as Hafiz.

“There are quite a few people around the world who have memorized the Quran,” Hazim said. “Last year, we had a couple of Muslims from Somalia who recited from the Quran.”

Those individuals ranged in age from 16 to 18, Hazim said, and had been working on memorizing the Quran from an early age.

Fasting, one of the chief components of Ramadan, helps Muslims in the United States develop greater awareness of others around the world who suffer from hunger on a daily basis, Hazim said.

“We fast because we choose to,” Hazim said. “But there are people who don’t have a choice, because they don’t have enough food to eat.”

There are exceptions from fasting for people who, for health reasons, may not be able to abstain from taking food or drink, Hazim said — those who are older, or who are ill or nursing small children, for example.

But even those individuals are encouraged to sacrifice for the betterment of others during Ramadan, Hazim noted, taking part in a kind of “spiritual fast.”

Because Islamic observances are based on the lunar calendar, the dates for holiday change from one year to the next.

In the case of Ramadan, the observance takes place about 11 days earlier than it did the year before. Thus, it takes about 33 years for Ramadan to cycle through an entire 365-day period on the Western calendar.

Hazim said the movement of Ramadan through the years shows the equality of the holiday, as over the course of time individuals will experience both periods of greater and lesser sunlight, affecting the amount of time they are required to fast.

Hazim said fasting begins with the first amount of light seen in the morning in the eastern sky, which in late May occurs about 5 a.m. The fast can be broken as soon as the sun sets, he said, about 8:50 p.m., meaning Muslims don’t have to wait until it becomes totally dark outdoors to consume food or drink.

Special iftar dinners are held at the local mosque at sundown on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during Ramadan.

At the end of Ramadan, from the evening of Sunday, June 25, until the evening of Wednesday, June 28, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a three-day observance known as “the feast after the fast.”

Contact Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/

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