If you work or go to school with Muslims, you may notice they're not joining you for lunch today. That's because it's Islam's holy month of Ramadan. From today through Oct. 12, observant Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk as they sacrifice food and other pleasures while focusing on the Quran, faith and family.
But that's no easy task in a society where food and other distractions are ever-present. The Times-Union interviewed four local Muslims from different walks of life about how they get through this monthlong spiritual exercise.
Parvez Ahmed, University of North Florida professor and chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Arlington resident
WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST ABOUT RAMADAN?
What I value most is the ability to spiritually connect to God. It forces us to think more and feel closer to God by establishing a variety of rituals and spending a lot of time contemplating the Quran. Ramadan is the month of the Quran. We read the entire Quran during the month.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE MONTH?
Waking up earlier than usual - 5 o'clock - and eating something that early in the morning. Personally, that's very hard because I'm not a big breakfast person. But I have to eat something to sustain myself during the day. And sometimes when we have lunch meetings at work, that's very challenging.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR RAMADAN?
Not much, except as the month gets closer you get into a more reflective mood, which I always do. And also cutting down on TV and reflecting more on why we're here, how to be a better person and a better father.