Most of us get strength from eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But people all over the world spend one month every year going hungry in the name of their faith.

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday celebrated every day from sunrise to sunset during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which began in 622 A.D.

One Bismarck family is among those fasting.

While they are operating on empty stomachs, though, the Koleilats say they actually feel full.

Alaa Koleilat has not eaten in 12 hours, but she says she feels stronger than ever.

And she’s thanking God for that energy.

“When I feel hunger that’s when I say thank God I have food waiting for me at home, not like people in third world countries who feel the hunger and have nothing,” Alaa says.

Alaa and her family are choosing to abstain, not just around the dinner table, but also around their fellow human being.

“Because if a person doesn’t eat all day but insults that person and says bad words and swears, there’s no point to the fasting because it’s almost like a hunger strike,” Nadim says.

Ramadan is about self-inspection, re-affirming faith in God, and making a sacrifice to do both.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar so the dates of Ramadan change every year, but the meaning behind the fast stays the same.

“It makes you watch yourself over whatever you do, talking to people, talking to family, yourself,” Nadim says. “It’s a month of evaluation for the whole year too.”

The Koleilats, like Muslims everywhere, pray five times a day during the holiday, read from the Koran, Islam’s sacred text, and spend time together as a family.

The girls still go to school and play sports, and father Nadim still works often 12-hour days as a urologist, all on an empty stomach.

“I think, what is life without challenges? What is life without struggles?,” Nadim says. (MORE)


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