1. It’s Monday, June 6, 2016.
2. It’s the 72nd anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy. Thousands lost their lives on the beaches and surrounding area as the U.S., Britain, Canada and others began the difficult task of wresting France back from the Nazis.
As important as Memorial Day is, this anniversary soon after is something Americans of all ages should never forget. The bravery of the men and women who took part in the invasion is worth a thought or two this otherwise beautiful day.
3. Ramadan officially started last night when the thin crescent after a new moon was spotted.
As someone who used to make work schedules, Ramadan is quite the wild card. You know when Christmas is. And you have a pretty good idea when Easter or any of the main Jewish holidays or holy days fall, generally within the late March to late April timeframe.
But Ramadan’s start gets progressively earlier each year. When I last did a work schedule to accommodate it, it was in July. It will get to the point that, in 2030, there will be two Ramadans in one Western calendar year – one beginning a few days after New Year’s and the second starting the day after Christmas.
4. While Ramadan is a generally joyful event, its main feature is fasting during daylight hours. And Muslims don’t fool around when it comes to this — fasting means you can’t have anything, period. That includes water.
So this year seems to be a tough one for Muslims, especially those who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Because Ramadan 2016 or 1437 (that’s the year according to the Islamic calendar) straddles the summer solstice.
During the next month, there’s more than 15 hours of daylight every day here in New York. If you’re going to fast for 30 days, you couldn’t pick 30 longer days than these.
Therefore, here’s hoping this isn’t an especially hot month and that my Muslim friends get down as much liquid as they can at 5 a.m., in the suhoor meal before dawn.
5. The more I became aware of Ramadan, the more curious I became.
For instance, imagine being a Muslim in Alaska or somewhere else closer to the North Pole, where there is almost no night. Sunrise in Fairbanks today was 3:17 a.m. Sunset will be at 12:22 a.m. tomorrow.
What I’ve learned is that the folks who issue decrees in Islam tell people in these areas that they can go by sunrise and sunset in Mecca. Which gives them a little bit of a break over the Muslims in New York – while sunrise in the holy city is 5:38 a.m., sunset is a little after 7 p.m.
The daily payoff for such devotion is the iftar, the meal that breaks the fast after sunset. It’s supposed to be pretty elaborate – a banquet with rich dishes and a celebration of family and friends.
6. To all who celebrate this holiday, my hopes for some great iftars, the strength to get through long days, and a Ramadan kareem.
7. I’m not a religious person. I respect your right to your beliefs. I expect you to respect my search for whatever the truth is whether it’s what you believe or not.
But I feel strongly that ignorance about religious customs is, as all ignorance is, not cool. We keep hearing Muslims put into one classification as if all 1.6 billion of them are a monolith and believe exactly the same thing. But that’s not true of any other religion – as Christians should clearly understand.
The more we know, the less stupid we are. That seems obvious, but in 2016, it’s a thought that bears repeating.