Muslims celebrate monthlong Ramadan with fasting and prayer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Amidst the annual observance of Ramadan, a peace has settled on the mosque in Mountlake Terrace. At Masjid Umar Al-Farooq, shoes are left by the door. Incense wafts through the blue-tiled building.

Ramadan is a monthlong celebration that requires followers of Islam to fast during the day. There is no food, water, smoking or sexual relations in the hours between first light and dusk.

How do Muslims endure the 30 days of fasting?

“By the grace of God,” said the mosque’s Interfaith Coordinator, Jamil Abdu’llah.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, based on a lunar cycle. This year the observance runs from June 28 to July 28. It’s considered crucial to the practice of Islam.

“Islam is something we do,” Abdu’llah said. “Ramadan is about trying our best to do only things that please God and stay away from things that don’t.”

For many Muslims, the greatest challenge is not daytime abstinence but lack of sleep.

Muslims pray five times daily, including once before morning light. When Ramadan falls in summer, that first prayer as early as 3 a.m.

Abstaining from sustenance enables Muslims to focus on prayer.

“When you are fasting, you pay more attention,” Abdu’llah said.

Participants traditionally break their fast in the evening with dates and milk or water.

On Fridays and Saturdays during Ramadan, the Masjid Umar al-Farooq Mosque hosts an evening meal, feeding as many as 300 people per night, and many families cover the costs of feeding those less fortunate.

“During Ramadan, you think more kindly to the poor and needy,” Adbdu’llah said.

Manzoor Azizi, who worships at Masjid Umar Al-Farooq, believes he is in a constant state of prayer for the entire month of Ramadan. According to Azizi, when he is fasting, no one should know of his commitment.

“It is a secret between me and my God,” Manzoor Azizi said. “If I’m sitting next to a man, he should never know I’m fasting unless I tell him.”

Ramadan ends with Salat al-Eid, a special prayer that commemorates the first day after Ramadan. After that prayer, everyone stands and hugs one another.

Everything is new after the embrace, Abdu’llah said.

The celebration that marks the end of Ramadan is called Eid-Al-Fitr. Children receive gifts and flavorful delicacies are enjoyed throughout the day.

Throughout the rest of the year, the mosque continues to give. Clothing, money, food and other provisions are donated to anyone who is in need.

Azizi said Masjid Umar Al-Farooq Mosque welcomes all people, whether one is interested in Islam or simply seeking to learn more about the culture.

“We help anyone of any religion,” Azizi said.

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