Ramadan Mumbarak to all our Muslim friends!
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of obligatory fasting from sunrise to sunset to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. While fasting is usually defined as refraining from food and water, many Muslims also refrain from smoking, sexual relations and try not to swear, lose their temper, or engage in other sinful behaviour. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity. People exempt from fasting include the elderly or the sick, and women who are pregnant, have just given birth, or are menstruating. Instead of fasting, these women can provide food to a homeless person or donate enough money to cover the cost of feeding a person for the month of Ramadan.
Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset, with dates being usually the first food consumed, as according to tradition Muhammad broke fast with three dates. Over time, iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at masjid or banquet halls for 100 or more diners. The iftar meal consists of water, juices, dates, salads and appetisers, one or more main dishes, and various kinds of desserts. Usually, the dessert is the most important part during iftar. Typical main dishes are lamb stewed with wheat berries, lamb kebabs with grilled vegetables, or roast chicken served with chickpea-studded rice pilaf. A rich dessert, such as luqaimat, baklava or kunafeh (a buttery, syrup-sweetened kadaifi noodle pastry filled with cheese), concludes the meal.