Religion

With Ramadan set to arrive, local Muslims prepare for hot days of fasting

Worshipers at the Muslim American Society of Charlotte mosque pray during Ramadan in 2014. It is a sacred month of fasting and repentance.
Worshipers at the Muslim American Society of Charlotte mosque pray during Ramadan in 2014. It is a sacred month of fasting and repentance. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

With Charlotte temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, the Charlotte area’s 10,000-plus Muslims are readying for Ramadan, a sacred month of fasting in which even water is off limits during daylight hours.

Ramadan will start at sunset Wednesday. Daytime fasting will begin Thursday, when temperatures are expected to reach a high of 96.

“It’s tough. I’m not going to lie,” Islamic Center of Charlotte spokeman Jibril Hough said about refraining from water when Ramadan, which arrives at a different time each year, happens to fall in summertime. “A lot of it is mental – that’s the key to overcoming it.”

That and drinking, say, Gatorade or coconut water before the sun rises in the morning, Hough said.

Fasting from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations between sunrise and sunset is obligatory for all adult Muslims except for those who are exempt, including the ill, the elderly and those who have diabetes or are pregnant.

Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, is also a time of repentance. Observing it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is scheduled to end on or about July 17 with Eid al-Fitr, a holiday that ushers in three days of communal meals and gift-giving.

During Ramadan, local Muslims will break the fast each night, beginning with the eating of a date – the fruit the Prophet Muhammad traditionally ate when he broke the fast. The Islamic Center of Charlotte, one of about dozen mosques in the Charlotte area, will host one or two open houses during Ramada in which non-Muslims will be invited to join with local Muslims in breaking the fast.

It was during the month of Ramadan, Muslims believe, that Muhammad first received revelations from Allah, or God, via the Archangel Gabriel. The revelations became the Quran, the Muslims’ holy book.

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