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Happy Ramadan! The Month of Fasting Begins Today

Dates from thedailygreen.com

Today marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims all over the world fast for about 30 days. There’s “a total abstinence of food and drink,” says the imam of Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT), Dr. Yusuf Kavacki. From about 1.5 hours before sunrise up until sundown each day, observers have to be mindful of what they put into their bodies as they purify their souls and focus their attention on God.

So what foods do Muslims eat when they break their fast at the iftar, the evening meal? Traditionally, Muslims will first drink a little bit of water, eat dates, some bread, and sometimes cheese.

“Dates are mentioned in Quran,” says Kavacki. “It’s one of the blessed foods we enjoy. There are sayings of the prophets that it is a good food; doctors and physicians tell us that [after fasting] the whole day, our blood sugar goes down, so dates make the blood sugar balanced.”

After these first few bites enter the observer’s stomach, Muslims say a prayer before they sit down to eat a bigger meal. For Pakistani Muslims, that dinner may consist of biryani, while Turkish Muslims might eat kebabs. Since Muslims are so ethnically diverse, their iftar differs depending on which region they come from.

After consuming the evening meal, Muslims will finish their meals with hot tea (chai, green tea, honey tea, etc.).

Ramadan ends this year on August 19 with Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking).