Women in lace head scarves and yellow raincoats shuttled Brownies and Cub Scouts into the Reston Community Center for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society’s (ADAMS) fourth annual Scouts Ramadan Iftar Dinner (Breaking the Fast), Friday, Oct. 6.
After the sun set, ADAMS Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts and their families broke fast with a potluck dinner.
Mothers balanced babies on their hips and large pans filled with chicken, rice and garbanzo beans in their hands. Little girls in multi-colored scarves draped cover brown jumpers adorned with patches ran circles around Boy Scouts dressed in blue uniforms.
Hidayah Jaka, 8, helped her mother, Priscilla Martinez, unpack a stroller, hold her brother and find a spot to pray.
Before dinner, Muslim families gathered toward the left corner of the center, to pray facing Mecca, the holy city of Islam located in Saudi Arabia.
Families lined up their shoes against the walls. Fathers and sons moved to the front of the crowd. Mothers and daughters shuffled to the back.
“Make sure you can touch your neighbors' shoulder,” a woman said over the loud speaker. “If you can’t feel their shoulder, you’re too far away.”
The sea of people wearing scarves and linen caps prayed, kneeled and bowed down to the floor in sync.
After prayer, families lined up alongside long tables filled with Middle Eastern dishes, lasagna and Chinese food, to eat their first meal of the day.
THE RAMADAN FAST is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God’s commandments, Martinez said. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity and a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Even though most children under 12 years old do not fast during Ramadan, Hidayah said it is important to be nice, caring and help one another during the holy month.
Even though she is not required to fast, the 8-year-old chooses to do so.
“When I get hungry, it makes me think about how the poor people feel,” she said.
Her friend and fellow Girl Scout, Hira Ahman, said she will fast next year.
“I try to think about the poor,” she said. “And I don’t bug my parents too much because they’re fasting.”
WHEN HIDAYAH’S stomach growls during the day, she said she picks up a book or starts her homework.
“I try not to think about food,” she said. “I do something else.”
ADAMS Scouts of all ages try to remember the poor and be on their best behavior during Ramadan.
Reston student Arfa Aijazi is used to her South Lakes High School friends asking her questions about Ramadan, especially during lunch.
“They ask me, ‘are you hungry?’” Arfa said. “I try and explain to them, but sometimes it gets old.”
During lunch, Arfa said she likes to go to the library and do homework because she goes to a mosque with her family at night during Ramadan.
Like Arfa, 16-year-old Mustafa Seale fasts during school hours. Mustafa travels from his home in Sterling to the Muslim Community School in Potomac, Md.
“We’re all going through the same thing,” he said.
On Friday, Mustafa broke his fast with a lollipop and a slice of pizza. When he fasts, he tries to think of the hungry and the poor, he said.
“Every year I learn something different,” he said.
This year, Mustafa has chosen to focus on being more patient with his family and friends.
“I’m finding that I’m not very patient,” Mustafa said. “It’s hard, but it’s important. I’m working on it."
FOR SCOUTS and Muslim children across the world, it is important to remember the poor during this time of year.
“Muslims look forward to Ramadan as a period of spiritual reflection and renewal,” Martinez said. “It is also a time for people of other faiths to learn more about Islam and the American Muslim community.”
Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and it begins 11 days earlier each year. Muslims will celebrate the last day of Ramadan Monday, Oct. 23, marked by communal prayers called “Eid ul-Fitr.”
"I learn something different every Ramadan," Mustafa said.