Religion
2:26 am
Fri July 25, 2014

As Ramadan Comes To A Close, Local Muslims Come Together To Break Fast

Volunteers at a local mosque prepare plates for iftar, the breaking of the fast at sundown.
Volunteers at a local mosque prepare plates for iftar, the breaking of the fast at sundown.
Credit Constanza Gallardo / WLRN

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is coming to a close. During Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day -- no food or drink. They break the fast with a meal after sundown called iftar. (See our Unique Eats: Ramadan Edition.)

Sana Ullah is 22 years old. For the past 15 years, she and her mom have gone to the Darul Uloom Islamic Institute during Ramadan. They volunteer to prepare and serve the food for iftar.

With other volunteers, Ullah and her mom set up cups of water and rows of plates filled with grapes, slices of watermelon, and dates -- because Muslims believe dates are what the prophet Mohammed ate to break his fast. 

Sana Ullah pours drinks in preparation for iftar at her mosque in Pembroke Pines. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Sana Ullah pours drinks in preparation for iftar at her mosque in Pembroke Pines. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Credit Constanza Gallardo / WLRN

"The hardest part is right before breaking it because you're sitting there and you're sitting in front of the plate," Ullah explains. "And there's a lot of anticipation happening right there."

After the evening prayer, Ullah prepares to serve a big dinner. With her mom, she prepares trays of rice and beef. They serve plates of food to everyone else before sitting down with their own.

Lulrick Balzora, professor of world religion at Broward College, says the mosque is not only a place where Muslims go to worship. 

"It's also a good place that after you have done a day of fasting to come around and to be encouraged and to practice this meaningful ritual together," Balzora explains.

Ullah says Ramadan provides the opportunity to connect with people whom she does not see during the rest of the year. 

"You catch up on everything that happened within the year," she explains. "Did anything change? Did they gain anything from the last Ramadan? Are they gonna create any new goals for Ramadan?"

Ullah says she looks forward to that time each year.

"This is the only time that every single day I get to see my friends," she says, "because after iftar we have prayer and prayer ends at, like, 12 every night so we get to be with our friends all night and we see them the next day and we see them for 30 days."

Sana Ullah keeps a blog called "Sana Hungry." There, she chronicles her experiences fasting during the Islamic holy month.

The piece was produced by the WLRN interns: Jephie Bernard, Constanza Gallardo, Selima Hussain, and Carla Javier. 

Traditionally, Muslims break their fast with dates and water.
Traditionally, Muslims break their fast with dates and water.
Credit Constanza Gallardo / WLRN