I can’t even believe it, but somehow, some way, we’ve officially reached Ramadan 2023. Even though I still feel like Eid Al-Fitr 2022 just ended about yesterday, but here we go—Eid Al-Fitr 2023, here we come!
Ramadan: An Overview
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Because the calendar follows the lunar path, the “official” date does change yearly—going back 10 days.
It’s arguably the largest seasonal holiday in the Islamic religion, with populations celebrating around the globe. It lasts for about 30 days, culminating in a holiday at the end.
Why We Fast in Ramadan
Fasting in Ramadan is a religious obligation on all Muslims who are able to do so. We fast by abstaining from food, drink, and any spiritual distractions from sunrise until sunset.
We fast for multiple reasons when celebrating Ramadan, one of which is that our spirituality and mental clarity increase through the act of fasting. This is not only an Islamic concept, as many religions and/or cultures have their own fasting practices for these same reasons.
Another main reason is that through fasting we’re further driven to donate charitably. Charity is already an Islamic obligation, but the act of giving charitably after you’ve actually tasted what it’s like to be hungry all day is a whole other type of charitable desire. My own children have realized how truly blessed they are after they’ve tried fasting—even so much as offering their own belongings to help other kids in need.
Ramadan Celebrations in Metro Detroit
Having the highest Muslim population in the U.S., it’s not hard to imagine that celebrating Ramadan is kind of a big deal around here. Celebrations are everywhere, and only growing!
This is exciting for me as a Muslim mom raising my girls here. It’s easy for me to access both religious and social Ramadan gatherings—that otherwise may have been difficult.
Many of these gatherings take place after “Iftar” (the dinner we break our fast at during sunset). They might consist of food, specialty desserts, novelty food items, and many religious gatherings all over metro Detroit.
An example of a popular local event that has garnered both local and national attention is the Ramadan Suhoor Festival in Dearborn. This event only happens during Ramadan after people have broken their fast in the evening, and attracts people from all over metro Detroit and beyond. Many other events like this also take place and most donate the proceeds to charity. We love taking our girls to visit some of them on the weekends, so they can sample some of the specialty food items and see these limited time events taking place within their hometown.
Celebrating Ramadan in Our Home
We start out decorating our house—the same as for any special event or holiday. Except Ramadan also brings with it this sense of peace and tranquility. That’s really the only way to put it. Again, there’s something about the fact that knowing billions of people all around the globe are making the conscious choice to engage in the act of fasting and prayer together that just calms the soul. It’s a connectedness we feel to others right from inside our home.
My kids absolutely love when we decorate for Ramadan and remind me weeks prior. This year is ultra special for my family, as we’re finally in our new home and bringing the beauty and joy of Ramadan into it. In fact, as we were designing it, I specifically asked for certain electric and furniture items with our future Ramadan decor in mind. And I’m so excited that I can finally put all those plans into fruition.
Our crescent-shaped tree is locally sourced, handmade by a company here in metro Detroit, as are many of the other ornaments and decor pieces around our house. Many of the other decorations are ones my kids have made over the years, with scribbled and sloppy handwriting that I love looking back on.
Next to our tree sits our calendar, counting down the days throughout the month. Each night right before iftar my girls cross off one day on our calendar, as we’re one day closer to their favorite holiday–Eid Al-Fitr.
My Favorite Things About Ramadan
Besides the humbling spiritual aspects of Ramadan, my other favorite thing is the time my family gets to spend together. There’s no other time of year my family spends as much time in each other’s company—as we start and end our day together around a table.
In my house, we all have busy, differing schedules with everyone coming and going at different times. There are work schedules, practices, after school activities, sports games, etc. So we usually have our meals separately—basically whenever one of us is free. But during Ramadan, since we’re all fasting at the same time, we start our day with a breakfast at sunrise together called “suhoor” and end it together at sunset during iftar. Both of these meals precede prayer time, which in my house is a family group prayer, and just adds to the closeness we all feel.
After Ramadan ends, there’s a holiday called “Eid-al-Fitr” which literally means “holiday of the breaking of the fast.” It’s super fun and a day my kids talk about for months in advance. There’s a sense of magic in the air that day, and I truly look forward to it all year long.
But another reason I love it so much is because that 8:00 a.m. cup of coffee just hits different after you haven’t had it for 30 days. If anyone remembers those old Folgers commercials where everyone is just extra happy drinking their coffee like it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever had? Yeah, I could probably make that commercial myself on Eid Al-Fitr without even acting. I’m currently drinking a cup of coffee as I write this post, but that Eid al-Fitr coffee—I know it’s just going to be way more well-deserved.
We Try and Make the Most of This Very Special Month
As quickly as it seems that Ramadan 2023 has arrived, I plan on making the most of it and savoring every moment my family gets to spend in its blessings and glory. A whole month dedicated to bettering oneself spiritually, mentally, and emotionally? I’ll not only take it—I’ll bask in it.
I wish anyone who is also celebrating a very blessed and joyous Ramadan Kareem!