At dusk Saturday, Muslims throughout SE Texas and around the world will join family and friends for a meal, breaking their fast during their holy month of Ramadan.
- Muslims here in Southern California and around the world are getting ready for the holy month of Ramadan. Eyewitness News reporter Annabelle Menuos has more on the holiday and how people are observing it in light of COVID-19 restrictions.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH: It's a time when about two billion Muslims around the world who observe the month of Ramadan would engage in fasting. Abstaining from food, drink and marital intimacy from dawn till sunset.
ANNABELLE MENUOS: This is the second year the COVID-19 pandemic forces restrictions during Ramadan.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH: Some are holding the prayers outdoors instead of being indoors.
ANNABELLE MENUOS: In Pakistan, health officials try to curb a third wave of infections. Guidelines include physical distancing at mosques, continuing to wear face coverings, and asking those with symptoms and those who are over 50 not to attend. Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Los Angeles, explains it is challenging because Ramadan is a time of prayer, fasting and community.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH: Usually after sunset, families get together to break the fast. Almost like having a Thanksgiving night every night for 30 days.
ANNABELLE MENUOS: Ramadan is also a time of self reflection and generosity.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH: It's seeking forgiveness from God, sharing forgiveness with others. Being without food and drink throughout the day, hopefully builds in us some kind of empathy where we feel-- one, we feel very grateful for the blessings we have received from God and be very thankful. And the way to show thankfulness is also by being empathetic with those who have less of these privileges.
ANNABELLE MENUOS: It begins in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH: The celebration of Ramadan begins at sunset tonight for most Muslims around the world.
ANNABELLE MENUOS: During this holy month, you can wish your Muslim neighbors a blessed Ramadan.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH: Ramadan Mubarak, similar to what the sign says above me. Ramadan Mubarak again, means have a blessed Ramadan. But you can say Ramadan. Happy Ramadan. Joyful Ramadan. Anything you can say would be greatly appreciated by your neighbors.