Thousands of area Muslims will gather nightly this month at the in Falls Church for the ninth month on the lunar calendar, Ramadan.
The center is also inviting non-Muslims and homeless into the center each evening to break the fast, as they give up liquids and foods while the sun is up.
“Anybody in the community that wants to come and join in when we’re breaking our fast, it’s very open, everyone is welcome,” said Jose Acevedo a youth director at the center. “They do go out and make it known that if there are people of need that would like to come in and eat, we make a special welcome to them as well. In general it’s a very open dinner for everyone in the community.”
Muslims from Washington, D.C. and Maryland routinely make the trip to Falls Church as well for Dar Al Hijrah’s nightly breaking of the fast.
The overall objective for Ramadan, which runs from Aug. 1 through Aug. 29 this year, is to gain God conscientiousness through fasting. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast each night during dinner. ew moon. This has historically been a point of contention as the timing of the moon's visibility may vary by location, but the start and end dates are now generally agreed upon based on modern understandings of the lunar calendar. In 2011, Ramadan began on Aug. 1. The ending of Ramadan is marked by the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, which takes place either 29 or 30 days after the beginning of the month. This year Eid ul-Fitr will fall on Aug. 30.
“You really try to focus during Ramadan, it’s the time of self reflection so there’s a lot of extra prayers that are done,” said Acevedo. “Every night we have over 1,000 people that come into pray.”
Security is strict on parking enforcement at the center, making sure the heavy stream of people make it into the center in a safe and orderly fashion. In addition to the meals and praying, kids are given the option of participating in arts and crafts and other recreational activities after they say their prayers.
With the poor economy and so many people out of work and struggling to put food on the table, the open invitation for the whole community is a great aspect of the Al Hijrah nightly fast breaking event.
“One of the big pillars for the month of Ramadan is that there’s a special alms that has to be given at the end of the month,” said Acevedo. “That alms is particularly for those of need, you can either donate food or money and the mosque distributes it to those in need in the community, the priority is for those who are in closest proximity to where you live.”
The center will hold the nightly gatherings every night throughout Ramadan.
For more information on the Al Hijrah Center, check out their website.