Muslims across Minnesota are celebrating the beginning of Ramadan this weekend.
During the monthlong holy period, Muslims fast without food or drink — from dawn to sunset — as an exercise in patience and humility. They also perform charitable acts, pray five times a day and spend more time reading the Qur’an.
“Everyone, especially here, has a fast-paced life,” said Lori Saroya, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota (CAIR-MN). “It gives them an opportunity to step back and evaluate themselves and their faith.”
Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and moves ahead on the calendar 11 days each year.
This year’s fasting period has fallen during the longest and hottest days, meaning the state’s 150,000 Muslims could be fasting nearly 16 hours each day, offering prayers around midnight, then rising as early as 3 a.m. to consume big breakfasts.
But “we’re getting used to it,” Saroya said. “It’s just another opportunity for the community to come together.”
It’s also an opportunity for organizations like hers to raise funds.
On July 12, CAIR-MN will hold its eight-annual Ramadan Dinner on Civil Rights at the University of Minnesota — part of the city of Minneapolis’ celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
The Muslim American Society of Minnesota also has a fundraiser during Ramadan. It will take place at 8 p.m. July 4 at the Blaine Center and 8 p.m. July 5 at the Inver Grove Center; iftar, a fast-breaking meal, and dinner will be provided.
Ramadan is also an opportunity for non-Muslims to learn more about the faith.
Starting July 6, the Minnesota Council of Churches will host a series of events in partnership with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota at area mosques to bring Christians and Muslims together. For more information, go to www.mnchurches.org.