Local Muslims break their fast with a meal, called "Iftar" meaing "breakfast" in Arabic, following a day of fasting and prayer for Ramadan at the Unity Center in Newhall on Friday, June 9, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Ramadan to begin at sunset May 5

For Muslims around the world, the holy month of Ramadan is ritual to reconnect with family and commit to good thoughts and good deeds.

“Generally, Ramadan has been a large part of the year when it comes to having family over. It’s a way to have family come together and celebrate the year and have good food,” said Robleh Farah, a Stevenson Ranch resident. “It’s been a really fun time having Ramadan.”

This year, Ramadan begins on the evening of May 5 and ends on June 4. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, following the lunar calendar, as a type of solidarity with the poor. Once the sun is below the horizon, Muslims break their fast with Iftar, the evening meal. Farah said his family will eat dates and canjeero, a pancake-like bread unique to Somalia.

Through each day, children and families also learn about their faith in between prayers, reciting the Koran.

“We also have sessions of learning more about the religion, more about what’s right and what’s wrong, because nowadays there are many misconceptions,” said Mon Couja, former board of directors chairman at Al Umma Center of Santa Clarita Valley. “Over time, things have gotten deviated from the mainstream.”

Once Ramadan ends, the holiday of Eid begins. Children would also receive gifts, specifically money, Farah said.

Through Ramadan, Couja said Al Umma will hold evening feasts with community leaders and people from outside the faith as a way to spend time together, learn from each other and better connect with people in Santa Clarita. He also noted the physical effects, as the fast helps cleanse the body.

“After the end of the month, you feel enriched spiritually,” Couja said. “You feel closer to God because you’re practicing teachings with a conscious awareness, so you’re always aware of your actions, your behavior.”

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