Corridor Muslims celebrate the beginning of Ramadan
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa —
Today marks the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims all over the country. No different here in the Corridor where communities are preparing for one of the most important celebrations for Muslims. During Ramadan, they fast from dusk until dawn after which they come together to break their fasting. Ramadan however, so much more than just not eating food, drinking or smoking.
"Ramadan teaches us that we don't always have to obey what we desire. When you keep yourself and then you can have it, after you know how precious that thing is," Molhim Bilal, the Imam at the Iowa City Mosque said.
He also stretched the importance of giving during the time of Ramadan. He remembers a trip to Africa where, during the celebration, he donated food to a local community in need. Here in Iowa City, any food that is left over from the celebration of breaking fasting is donated to local corridor food banks.
"There is usually food left over. We take that to the shelter and even the people at the shelter know it's the month of Ramadan and they are happy. That joyfulness makes me happy for the next three years," Bilal says.
It's a coming together, giving sharing and making sure everybody can join. For Noha Reza, the month is always special. She has been celebrating Ramadan in Cedar Rapids for the past seven years. All of her family join in fasting and understanding one of the five pillars of the Muslim religion. She often tries to explain to people why it's so important to them.
"A lot of people don't see what's behind it," Reza says. "What's behind it is, you are struggling to control your actions, not just stopping yourself from eating and drinking but also thinking about what you say."
Staying kind, and reflecting on the way you handle yourself among your community are as important as adhering to fasting rules. It can be hard, especially for younger Muslisms. Mariam Nawar has been fasting since she was eight years old. It begins by rewarding kids with candy when they can stay vigilant during Ramadan but it ends with them understanding and learning what their community wants them to understand.
"Sometimes it does get tough, really tough. Not being able to drink or eat anything sometimes for 17 hours at longest," Nawar says. "But It's kind of one of those things that's very dear to me, we are always doing this countdown from two month ahead."