Rizwan Alladin of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Long Island, Amityville.

Rizwan Alladin of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Long Island, Amityville. Credit: Rizwan Alladin

Ramadan, the monthlong religious observance during which Muslims pray, reflect, perform acts of charity and fast, began on the evening of March 10. This week’s commenters discuss the spiritual benefits of iftar, the fast-breaking evening meal eaten at sunset during Ramadan.

Rizwan Alladin

President, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Long Island, Amityville  

For an entire month, your Muslim neighbors are celebrating Ramadan. They will be waking each morning to get their last chance to consume food and drink before going without any nourishment (not even water) until the sun has set. And while Muslims welcome their friends and well-wishers to join them in the breaking of the fast with special treats, the true observers of Ramadan will be spending their time in self-reflection. However, just as what we eat at predawn or sunset will vary from household to household, so does how Muslims evaluate the day’s sacrifice. So, I asked our more than 450 members what spiritual satisfaction they feel when enjoying that first morsel at sunset. They told me they feel “grateful that God has provided you with food,” grateful for the opportunity for “praying in congregation” and for iftar’s assistance with “introspection and forming of prayers.” They feel “connected to the Creator,” experiencing “unity and togetherness” as they hold fast “to the rope of Allah.” In both fasting and breaking the fast, they say, they feel “that I am doing it for Allah.” The Holy Quran reminds us in Chapter 2 that we fast “so that you may become righteous.” Ultimately, I’m satisfied by each inch I hope I’m making toward being among God’s righteous. And yes, the delicious iftar food is a nice bonus.

Sadri Altinok

President, the Turkish Cultural Center, Ronkonkoma 

Sadri Altinok at the Turkish Cultural Center.

Sadri Altinok at the Turkish Cultural Center. Credit: Barry Sloan

Fasting transcends mere physical hunger, it embodies a spiritual journey that individuals can immerse themselves in. Within the Muslim community, families are encouraged to break their fasts together whenever possible. Following this tradition, households open their doors to invite community members to participate in this special meal, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie. For me, the most profound aspect of iftar occurs in the moments just before breaking the fast. With a table adorned with an array of food and drink before me —anticipation building — I am acutely aware that the time to indulge is yet a few minutes away. Despite feeling hunger and thirst, I refrain from partaking until the designated moment arrives. This experience instills a profound sense of discipline, as I honor my commitment to abstain until the prescribed time. In these moments, I feel a deep connection with the Almighty, appreciating the provisions bestowed upon me and reflecting on the daily struggles endured by the less fortunate. Through fasting, I cultivate gratitude and empathy, drawing closer to both my faith and those in need.

Isma H. Chaudhry

Spokesperson and board member, Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury 

Isma H. Chaudhry at the Islamic Center of Long Island.

Isma H. Chaudhry at the Islamic Center of Long Island. Credit: Howard Schnapp

During iftar, Muslims break their daily fast in the evening meal of Ramadan. It is a time for prayer, reciting verses from the Holy Quran and reflecting on one’s actions and intentions. This period is dedicated to deepening one’s relationship with Allah, seeking forgiveness and renewing one’s spiritual self. Breaking the fast is considered a sacred opportunity for spiritual contemplation, nourishment and rejuvenation. Muslims gather with family, friends and members of the community to break the fast. This communal aspect of breaking the fast promotes a sense of togetherness, solidarity and connection with others. Sharing meals and prayers during iftar strengthens bonds and creates a sense of unity. By observing the fast and practicing self-control throughout the day, fasting Muslims can tap into gratitude with humility and reflect on the numerous blessings Allah has bestowed upon them. This reinforces the value of patience and perseverance in spiritual growth.

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