Ramadan: Summer Fasting in the Mission

Samiramis Imports on Mission Street at 25th. Photo by Andrea Valencia

Monday afternoon Nisren Arikat walked into Samiramis Imports on Mission and 25th streets to buy ingredients for the dinner she will prepare and share with her family tonight after the sun has gone down. As Muslims during Ramadan, it will be their first meal of the day.

After fasting for 16 hours a day during the month-long Ramadan, Muslims break their fast with Iftar, the second meal of the day. Arikat will prepare Mansaf, a traditional Jordanian dish cooked with lamb, dry yogurt and rice. She also makes sure to always have on the table soup and fattoush, a salad of different veggies and herbs with pita bread. At 8:32 p.m., right around sunset, she said her family will do some praying and then the sharing of the large meal.

Ramadan happens 11 days earlier every year because it follows the lunar calendar. For Muslims on the Northern hemisphere, the fasting lasts longer hours than for those living in the Southern hemisphere. This year, with Ramadan beginning on June 28th, Muslims in the Mission are experiencing epically long days of fasting. Here’s the The New York Times with more:

The Islamic calendar is lunar (around 354 days) and does not incorporate leap years, so Ramadan rotates slowly through the Western calendar, year after year, 11 days at a time. In a decade and a half, Ramadan will fall during the shorter days of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, while Muslims in southern locales like Australia and South Africa will face longer fasts. More here on Measuring Ramadan.

Arikat grew up Muslim and started fasting at the age of eight. That doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge, especially with the festival falling in the summer months, but lots of experience has made it easier to endure.

“It teaches you to have patience and to be strong, it builds your personality and therefore it makes you feel good,” she said of the day’s fast, which began this morning at 4:30. At 4:30 p.m., she’s still got quite a few hours to go without food.

If you grew up Muslim in the Mission or recently converted to Islam and want to share your Ramadan experience send us an e-mail at missionlocalATgmail.com.

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