Tuesday marks the first day of Ramadan

Published: April 13, 2021 5:36 PM EDT

Tuesday marks the first day of a month-long fast for Muslims across the world.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. They fast from sunrise to sunset, making it a time of reflection and community.

This year marks the second time Ramadan will be observed during the pandemic, which calls for some adjustments. Instead of breaking fast with festive meals and family, people may choose to observe the iftar differently.

As the sun rose Tuesday morning, Ah-med Khan and his family woke up for a pre-dawn meal called Suhoor, then went back to sleep.

“Obviously you’re going to feel hungry, you’re going to feel thirsty, but you are meant to understand that these are what make you human,” said Khan, Southwest Florida engagement coordinator with CAIR Florida. CAIR is the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

At sunset, fast is broken with dates, following the tradition of the Prophet Huhammad who would take a sip of water and indulge in his favorite fruit.

These traditions don’t just include food and prayer, but also charity.

“We ponder and focus this month especially for feeding more poor and homeless people than any other month in the year,” said Imam Syed Sulaman with the Islamic Community of Southwest Florida. “We distribute food for the homeless people, those people that have no shelter.”

These are polarizing times and Khan admits it isn’t always easy being Muslim in the U.S.

“We get the calls about Muslim families whose children have been bullied in school simply for wearing the clothes they wear, eating the foods they eat, and basically not looking like the person next to them,” Khan said.

Sulaman said when people criticize another religion it’s because they lack knowledge.

“They don’t have enough history about the actual faith,” Sulaman said.

But the freedom to live their faith means so much.

“We are your neighbor, we’re your fellow Americans,” Khan said. “We just happen to practice a different religion than you.”