Houston Observes Ramadan

image by B. Simpson Cairocamels

Ramadan lanterns from below
Houston is three days into Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. It's an important event for a city whose Muslim population is double the national average. But what is Ramadan and how is Houston observing it?

During the 30 day period of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast in the evening.

Dr. Aziz Siddiqui, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, stresses that the fast is both physical and mental.  

“From dawn to dusk you are forbidden to eat, drink, smoke and also keep away from any other activities which could be hurtful to you, you’re not even supposed to badmouth so it’s a complete fast of the entire body.”

Muslims underscore the sanctity of the month by balancing their usual work schedules with the daily fasts, regular prayer and reflection. In Houston, this entails a variety of events.

“You spend a lot of time in praying day and night. Those who can afford invite people for iftar for opening the fast. There will be gatherings in the masajid all our Islamic centers where people get together in the community. There will be the taraweeh prayers at night. We have 20 centers, so it’s a very lively month.”

During the month in Houston, the city holds the annual ‘Mayor’s Ramadan Iftar and Dinner’, which began during Mayor Lee Brown’s tenure. Houstonians are invited to break their fast and dine with the mayor and other city officials. Mayor Annise Parker will hold her second dinner in office early August.

Ramadan is expected to end on August 19th with a form of celebration and prayer called Eid in Reliant Center. It’s a huge event that often draws anywhere from 40 to 50,000 people.

 

This story was written by Sara Khan and voiced by Edel Howlin.