The Charlotte area’s 15,000 or so Muslims began observing the holy month of Ramadan on Monday.
It’s a sacred time of repentance and of fasting from food and drink during daylight hours.
Like last year, Ramadan – the ninth month on the Islamic calendar – arrives as temperatures in Charlotte are expected to reach into the 90s. The forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 99.
Not even water is allowed during the daytime fast.
A lunar holiday, Ramadan begins at different times of the year over time.
Fasting from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations between sunrise and sunset is obligatory for all adult Muslims except for those exempt, including the ill, the elderly and those who are pregnant or who have diabetes.
During Ramadan, Muslims will break the fast each night, often at community gatherings at mosques. The “iftar,” or breaking of the fast, begins with the eating of a date – the fruit the Prophet Muhammad traditionally ate when he broke the fast.
Observing Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars, or tenets, of Islam. It will end this year around July 5, to be followed by Eid al-Fitr, a holiday that ushers in three days of communal meals and gift-giving.
In the Charlotte area, thousands of Muslims also come together for an hour or so of community prayer to mark the end of Ramadan.