of the year. By reminding themselves of this fact, it is hoped that not only will they bemore sensitive to those less fortunate, but to try to do something practical to help them.
Do Muslims eat and drink immediately before they start their daily fast?
Yes, most Muslims certainly do take a pre-fast meal and the period of eating before thefast is called Suhoor. This is an important meal, for it must set them up for the rest of theday, often 12 or 13 hours before their next meal or drink. A few choose to go to bedslightly later than usual and take a meal and drink before they sleep. While this isn
tideal, and is even frowned upon by more traditional Muslims, for some it does mean thatthey sleep longer and can cope more easily with the fast of the day to come.
What happens every day when Muslims break their fast?
As daylight begins to fade, Muslims await the Muezzin
s call to perform the Maghrib prayers. Once the call is heard, and the Maghrib prayers are performed, they may break fast (called Iftaar in Arabic). (You can see here too the origin of the word
,which literally meant to break the fast during the night, after having eaten the last mealthe day before).Most will first take some form of thirst-quenching drink, and this varies not only byindividual preferences, but also but local customs. It is quite common in the Middle Eastto break fast with water and dates, but in Malaysia it is more common to drink a localfruit juice, sugar cane juice or rose syrup water, with either dates or kway (small, sweetcakes or pastry). Some prefer to drink soya bean milk not only as a thirst quencher, butalso for its extra protein value.Upon breaking fast, most very strict Muslims, will merely take a few fresh dates, or drieddates if fresh are not available. If neither is available they will just take a few sips of water.It is common for most families to have their evening meal at home straight after breakingfast, and while the meal should be in keeping with the meanings of Ramadan (in other words not a feast), it has become common in modern cities around the world for Muslimfamilies to go out to eat at a local restaurant, particularly those in a hotel.If during Ramadan you see Muslim families sitting quietly at a restaurant table, with themeal served, but not yet eating, it is because the Maghrib prayers have not yet beencalled, and they cannot yet break fast.
Can younger children fast during Ramadan?
Indeed they can, and in fact many even as young as four or five, are encouraged to fastfor a few hours a day during Ramadan, to begin to appreciate the significance of the Holymonth. As they get a little older, most families encourage their children under 12 to fastfor half a day, until they reach twelve years old, when all Muslim children are expected to