The holy month of Ramadan has come to an end. For believers of Islam, the 30-or so days of fasting has ended, and the celebrating begins.
It’s been estimated that the Chicago area is home to between 300,000 and 500,000 Muslims. Worldwide, those who practice Islam make up a quarter of the population.
Ikram Kamal opened her home in Orland Park to tell WGN’s Ray Cortopassi about her faith and how it’s shaped her life.
Kamal moved to the Chicago area from California when she was 7. At 12, her family moved to Palestine. She married at a young age and moved back to the U.S. four years later.
Now, she’s a working mother of six.
“Growing up Muslim and doing the things Muslims do, we’re everyday Americans,” she said. “It doesn’t make us any different, the things we believe in, the things we do are a little different. That’s all.”
From mid-April until this week, as determined by the moon, Ramadan is the commemoration of the month in which the prophet Mohammad revealed the Quran to Muslims in the Sixth Century.
That period concluded Wednesday night.
Now, it’s all about celebrating the end of Ramadan, called Eid Al Fitr.
For the next three days, Muslims will visit family and friends, make sweet dishes, give gifts or money to children and those in need.
“Religion is simple – I feel,” she said. “People make it complicated but for us. Islam is really simple.”
One of the pillars of Ramada is prayer — five times a day. It begins with a cleansing, a washing of the face, hands arms and feet. And then a hijab as Kamal prays, facing east toward Mecca.
All the while, the family is maintaining a day-long fast, something even her youngest child participates in.
“Not even water, no gum, nothing enters your mouth from sun up to sundown,” she said. “It’s a discipline. … I’m giving myself to God, this is for Him….It feels good that I’m doing my part as a Muslim.”
The fast is meant to bring believers closer to God.
Every night at sundown, there’s a feast. And the whole family joins in.
Fasting and prayer are just two of the Pillars of Islam. There is a declaration of faith, a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and works of charity. They are values Kamal is proud to inspire in her children.
“I feel like it’s very important for me and my family to make sure they have good direction growing up so they can be decent human beings,” she said.
Covid kept the family from taking part in their normal celebrations. They had fun instead at Starved Rock.