For Lubna Malik and her family, observing Ramadan means using focus and self-discipline to improve themselves and their lives.
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Muslim calendar; it is spent fasting from dawn to dusk. Followers believe that the Qur'an was sent down to the Earth during this month. Special nightly prayers called Tarawih are held, and at least 1/30th of the Qur'an is recited each night, so that by the end of the month, the entire Qur'an has been read.
The observance of Ramadan began Wednesday night and ends on Oct. 13.
"Fasting for us is more like renewing our connection with God and increasing our faith and trying to bring our lives back to the course that it should be running instead of running to all the worldly causes," said Malik, a longtime resident of Holmdel who is originally from Karachi, Pakistan.
Malik, a teacher at a Muslim school, lives in her Takolusa Drive home with her husband of 19 years, Naeem, and two children, daughter Najia, 15, and son Danyal, 8.
Malik said the observation of Ramadan is significant because it allows her and her husband to instill the Muslim culture into their American-born children.
"I want my kids to understand what Ramadan is all about," she said. "I hope they will become good Muslims and not just think of their religion as something that they do on Fridays or at Ramadan or at special occasions."
Malik said the family tries to congregate as much as possible with other Muslims in the community so that the children can see that many other people are fasting and that they're not alone. (MORE)