Al-Madinah Cultural Center celebrates sundown meal

Elizabeth Putnam

Sunset was approximately 4:30 p.m. Thursday, marking the end of the Muslim fasting day.

The Al-Madinah Cultural Center celebrated the breaking of the fast with Muslim students and an Iftaar, or meal, of rice, chicken and vegetables.

The meal was open to the public and invitations were sent to other cultural centers and University governing bodies.

“We opened the meal up to non-Muslims because we wanted to educate others about Ramadan and fasting,” Fahad Siddiqui said.

Few non-Muslims attended.

Ahmed Siddiqui said he hoped the turnout of non-Muslims would have been higher.

“I think it’s because no one really eats dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon,” Siddiqui said.

The meal was served in a classroom in Ackerman Hall with just enough room to serve the approximately 75 who gathered.

The fast was broken with dates and Somosa, a triangular meat-filled pastry.

Fahad Siddiqui said the fast is broken as close to sundown as possible because the prophet Muhammad said it’s best to have the most time to eat.

“Eating dates has always been a tradition, it’s just something we first eat to break the fast,” said Nadia Eldeeb.

In an adjacent room, Muslims knelt on the ground to pray before returning for the meal.

Fahad and Ahmed Siddiqui’s aunt, who is a caterer, prepared the Pakistani meal.

More than one billion Muslims began observing Ramadan on Nov. 16 with prayer and fasting, marking the month when God revealed the Quran to the prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel.

From sunrise to sunset, Muslims fast and don’t drink water.

“I usually try to drink a lot of water at night to make up for not drinking it during the day,” Eldeeb said.

Alcohol and drugs, including cigarettes, are discouraged at all times and would break the fast if consumed. Sex is also prohibited during the fasting time.

Fahad Siddiqui said most Muslims gain weight during Ramadan because they tend to eat more at night.

“It’s a time to feel the hunger of the unfortunate and those who don’t have food,” Siddiqui said.

Heidi Abdel Kader said those who fast crave food during the day and tend to overeat when breaking fast.

She said the hardest part is not being able to drink coffee throughout the morning.

“I wake up about 5:30 a.m. to make the coffee and then I try and stay up,” Abdel Kader said.

Breaking the fast is traditionally done in fellowship with families and friends, Siddiqui said.

“I always try to eat with other Muslims,” he said.

Hassan Idowu said he also tries to break fast with other Muslim students to foster fellowship.

“At home I would eat with my family but since being in college I try to eat and socialize with other Muslims,” Idowu said.

Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan, Eid al Fitr, on Dec. 15 or 16, 29 or 30 days after it began, depending on when the moon was first sighted.

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]