San Francisco Bay Area has one of United States' largest populations of Muslims and starting Wednesday, Muslims across the area will celebrate Islam's holy month of Ramadan and help raise awareness about hunger.
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Muslim lunar calendar. This year, the month begins with the new moon on May 16 and ending around June 15, according to the San Jose-based, non-profit Islamic Networks Group (ING).
It's the month where Muslims believe the Qur'an was revealed and it's when people fast from before dawn until sunset.
"It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control," said the Muslim Community Association (MCA) in the Bay Area.
Many Muslims who choose to fast during Ramadan not only totally abstain from food but also any type of beverage, smoking and conjugal relations, according to the MCA. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before dawn and a post-fast meal (iftar) after sunset.
Going hungry and fasting for the entire day can be difficult, especially for those who work or attend school. California law requires that an employer reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, according to the Council on Arab Islamic Relations of San Francisco.
The goals of fasting is to help Muslims draw closer to God, increase their will power, feel compassion for others, reflect on their shortcomings and strengthen community relations, according to ING.
This Ramadan, ING says it will raise awareness about hunger in the Bay Area and across the nation.
"In California, despite having the 5th-largest economy in the world, the hunger rate is still higher than the global average, at 12.3%, or almost five million people out of a total state population of nearly 40 million," ING said in a statement.
ING encouraged those who are hosting iftars to invite people in the community to join them for dinner, or instead of having lavish iftars, to donate food for the needy inside and outside of mosques.
A survey done on the Muslim community in the Bay Area showed that Muslims who regularly attend mosques were more likely to volunteer and give back to their community.
Here are the list of locations across the Bay Area where people of all faiths can participate to help raise hunger awareness.