Most Americans are familiar with Ramadan, the Islamic holy month where Muslims fast during the day and devote themselves to prayer, reflection and service to others.
Ramadan is believed to be the month the Quran — the holy book of Islam — was revealed to the prophet Muhammad in the year 610.
Fewer Americans are familiar with the end of the month, a day called Eid al-Fitr (pron.: eed ahl FIT-tr), the Festival of Breaking the Fast, which will take place on May 12-13.
“The day starts with a prayer, and then, after the prayer, we will have a big brunch,” said Dr. Shaukat Ali. “Then, we will have the exchange of gifts and be happy.
“It is a celebration of the end of Ramadan, that God has given me strength to go through this month of Ramadan — fasting every day — and now, it’s a time to celebrate.”
During Ramadan, families eat a meal before sunrise — called suhoor — and one after sunset called iftar. Dates are traditionally the first thing that families eat before the evening meal.
Ali and his wife, Amna — who is the president of the Islamic Center of Paducah — hosted some families and friends at their home on Saturday to have the daily breaking of the fast.
In breaking the fast, invitees ate appetizers, including dates, fruit salad and other small delicacies.
After the appetizers, the faithful had a prayer in a separate room of the house, then had dinner, which consisted of kebab, chicken korma and other hearty (sometimes spicy) dishes along with naan, a leavened oven-baked flatbread.
The desserts course closed out the evening, with assortments of baklava and other sweet treats.
The evening was similar to get-togetherss of other religions, with people gathering, eating together and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship.
Hosting those who are fasting at his home was not only gracious of the Ali family, but is called for as a part of Islam: “Whoever feeds the person who is breaking his fast, he will have his reward (for his fasting) without decreasing anything from the reward of the fasting person.”
“I am very delighted to see all of our Muslim brothers and sisters in my house, this blessing of God to invite all of these people to my house because you get many rewards,” Shaukat Ali said. “If you feed somebody who has fasted a full day and you invite them to eat with you is the most rewarding. In my religion, it is very rewarding.”
Eid al-Fitr begins at sundown on May 12 and is a day of celebration, as Muslims end a month of daytime fasting.
Since the Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates shift with respect to the Gregorian calendar, usually by about 10 days a year. In 2022, Ramadan will begin on April 2 and end on May 1.
This article was revised at 3:30 p.m. on May 4, 2021.