Each night of Ramadan, the Islamic Education Center on Montrose Road in Potomac is filled worshipers. After depositing their shoes near the door, men kneel to pray and eat on one side of the room, while women and children do the same on the other side, though swathed in flowing headscarves of all colors.
Ramadan, which began on Sunday, Sept. 24, is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that during Ramadan, the Prophet Muhammad's revelation of the Qur'an began. To honor this, Muslim's fast from dawn to dusk for the entire month through Oct. 23. Many local Muslims congregate at the Islamic Education Center in order to celebrate the breaking of the fast with peers, or to pray in time for sunset on the way home from work.
Maryam Jalali of Rockville said that in addition to avoiding food and drink during daylight hours, Muslims are also discouraged from "gossiping, instigating or anything bad" during their fast. Jalali, whose adult children intermarried and who is herself engaged to a Christian, was eager to discuss similarities between the two religions.
"Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, like Christmas for Christians," she said. "....Every prophet wanted the best for their people."
Sheeva Norooz, who attends Pyle Middle School, sat alongside other Muslim women as she opened the warm meal provided to each worshiper at the mosque for the breaking of the fast. She said that fasting is a challenge, and that she gets up around 5 a.m. each morning of Ramadan in order to eat enough before sunrise to carry her through the day.