May 16 marked the beginning of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer for 1.8 billion Muslims all over the world, as well as local Syrian families and practicing Muslims here on Vashon. During Ramadan, all capable adults (and some youth) fast from sunrise to sunset. When fasting, Muslims have one meal before sunrise, called suhoor, and share another meal with friends and family after sunset, called iftar. It is a holy time of reflection, patience and generosity. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival where people visit family and friends, buy new clothes and give generously to charities and relatives. Ramadan is determined by the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar, which means it differs annually. As you can imagine, fasting from sunrise to sunset is more arduous in June than in December. This year, between May 16 and June 14, fasting is observed from 5:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Two weeks ago, islanders born in Syria, Mexico and different parts of the United States came together for our weekly English conversation class. All of us have different spiritual practices and cultural perspectives. Some of us are young, some are old. Some of us drink coffee, some tea. Collectively, we are accountants, educators, mothers, nannies, dancers, artists, cooks, lawyers and editors. We support one another as friends and sisters.
With Ramadan on the horizon, we discussed how each of us would give up or change one thing in our lives for one month to be in solidarity with our Syrian friends. We came up with the following daily commitments: No Facebook, No self-judgment, turning off the phone for an hour and reading, 20-minute meditation, exercising; no sugar (before sundown!).
Are you inspired? What will you give up, let go of or change for the rest of Ramadan? Join us.
— Molly Matter