Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, is coming to a close. It’s meant to represent a period of self-reflection and betterment, an internal struggle to become a better Muslim in the eyes of God. But for many, there are very real outside struggles as well, especially in the murderous Syrian civil war, where up to 400,000 have been killed since the war began in 2011.
But that didn’t stop the charity Adalah Foundation from holding an iftar, or evening breaking of the fast, in the ruins of a rebel stronghold not far from the country’s capital, Damascus. Images from Reuters depicted families, children, and volunteers providing food for the children of the neighborhood, which has been under siege by Assadist regime forces since 2013. Social media celebrated the images as a coming together of humanity in the face of adversity and war, especially considering the heinous acts of the ISIS, President Bashar Assad, and many of the rebel factions who have fought throughout the civil war.
Iftar meals occur every night of Ramadan, with Muslims being asked to refrain from eating, smoking, or drinking from sunrise to sunset, which varies depending on where they live. Muslims in the extreme northern hemisphere have had special dispensations to break the fast earlier since daylight hours are longer there. People are who traveling, ill, pregnant, or have other health-related problems that would be worsened by fasting are also not meant to take part. Fasting is meant to build self-control and discipline and allow Muslims time to focus on their internal betterment, much like Christian monks who fast for similar reasons. It is also a time for charity, with many Muslims giving away or serving as much food as they can during this time.
The charities leading these iftar feasts had more than enough to worry about, with Assadist regime bombers routinely attacking hospitals, schools, and other gatherings of people in rebel-held territory since the beginning of the war. In Assad-held territory, rebel forces often bombard civilians as well. That threat clearly didn’t stop these feasts from taking place in public, rather than in shelters or in homes.
[Featured image by Ajit Solanki/AP]