Islamic Society sets annual interfaith meal for Ramadan observance

An invitation for the event, which includes dinner and is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts, has been extended to leaders of area faith communities for their congregations.

Iftar is the breaking of the fast at day’s end during Ramadan, which begins Wednesday evening, May 16, as Muslims abstain from eating, from sunrise to sunset, during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The pre-dawn meal is known as “suhoor.”

Dr. Mohammed Saleem Bajwa, a Holyoke physician and society member, said during this time Muslims frequently wake up 90 minutes before sunrise to have a light meal and pray either at home or in congregational prayer at a mosque.

He said most follow their daily routine for work and school while observing the fast.

The fast is broken at sunset either at home with such foods as a favorite yogurt drink or at a community iftar at a mosque. He said there is generally “lengthy nightly prayer at the mosque” during Ramadan or “some people do an abbreviated form at home.”

Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims who represent many different cultures and countries, and the practice of fasting to be closer to God is one of the five pillars of the faith.

Acts of charity, along with prayer and reading of the Quran, whose first revelations were believed to have been given to Mohammed during the month of Ramadan, are encouraged during the month as well as extending hospitality to others to participate in iftar.

Observers may break the day’s fast with water and a date, with a more substantial meal, featuring such dishes as soups, curries and salads, after evening prayer.

A daily iftar will be held at sunset at the society during Ramadan and that is also open to the public.

Ramadan ends the evening of June 15. The three-day celebration of Eid al-Fitr, which means “festival of breaking the fast,” concludes the month-long observance.

The interfaith evening includes reflections and prayers.

Registration for the event, at 377 Amostown Road, is appreciated by calling (413) 788-7546 or emailing [email protected] or ms[email protected]