Community Gathers to Welcome Ramadan on Clifton's Municipal Grounds


On Sunday, March 19th at 6:15 pm, members of the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC), city and county officials, and residents of Clifton from varied backgrounds met on municipal grounds at City Hall to usher in Ramadan and to light the city’s fanous. Approximately 80 people, adults and children, came out in the cold evening air to participate. Standing tall near the corner of Clifton Avenue and Van Houten, the golden fanous - lantern in Arabic - has become a symbol of the holy month of Ramadan. Centuries ago, before electricity, Muslims observing Ramadan would put their lit fanous outside their homes to light the path to the mosque for morning (the first prayer, before sunrise) and evening (the fourth prayer, after sundown) prayers.

This is the seventh year that the ICPC has sponsored and co-hosted this event in Clifton - corresponding with the opening of their Clifton location. The ICPC also has locations in Paterson, which opened 30 years ago, and a new one in Prospect Park. “We are proud that the municipalities in Passaic County are highlighting the essence of Ramadan,” Clifton’s ICPC Sheikh Osamah Salhia said.

The community fanous lighting came about with the help of Fahim Abedrabbo, a community member of ICPC. Together, Abedrabbo and the ICPC have ensured that this event continues by working closely with the city and ensuring that all appropriate municipal requests are addressed. Prospect Park was the first Passaic County municipality to display a fanous or a crescent, followed by Paterson. To date, approximately nine towns in the county have their own display and across the state, 35 municipalities host a fanous or a crescent for Ramadan.

Abedrabbo mc’d the event and greeted the various elected officials in attendance, which included City Council members Mayor Ray Grabowski and councilors Antonio Latona, Lauren Murphy, and Rosemary Pino. Safwan Louhab beautifully chanted a passage about Ramadan from the Quran before Mayor Grabowski and County Clerk Danielle Ireland-Imhoff made brief welcoming remarks. Sheikh Mohammed Qatanani and Sheikh Osamah Salhia, ICPC imams - leaders of Muslim prayer, both spoke about the holy month and the recurring themes of peace, looking inward, and being a light to the community.

Photo credit: Davey Joseph

The celebration of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and its start date is often hard to pin down ahead of time, as it depends on the new moon’s visibility over Mecca. Muslims watch for the first visible crescent to determine the start of the holiday. Because the Gregorian calendar is based on the earth’s travel around the sun rather than on the moon’s cycle, the dates for Ramadan shift backward on it by about 11 days each year. This year, Ramadan is expected to start on Wednesday, March 22nd, with the 23rd marking the first day of fasting.

Sheikh Salhia said, “Ramadan is a sacred month in which Muslims focus inwardly to nourish their souls and rekindle their relationship with God, family, and community. It’s observed by abstaining from eating, drinking, and other indulgences from sunrise to sundown for the entire month. Its nights are revived by prayers in congregation in our mosques.”

During Ramadan, your Muslim neighbors, students, and others over the age of 11 or 12 will likely be fasting from sunrise to sundown. (There is no single right age at which a Muslim child takes up the obligation to fast; some start as young as seven while others may not start until after puberty or age 15.) They may also need to take one or two short breaks during the day for obligatory prayer which occurs at specified times. To wish someone holiday greetings, you can say Ramadan Mubarak, which means “have a blessed Ramadan” or Ramadan Kareem, "may Ramadan be generous to you.”

The Islamic Center of Passaic County is one of the largest mosques in North Jersey, serving thousands of congregants. The center offers the five daily prayers, counseling services, educational programs, and many social services for the community. The Clifton center is located at 257 Pershing Road and their phone number is (973) 278-7070. To help support their charitable work, you can donate to the ICPC HERE and to emergency earthquake relief HERE.

To all who will be observing the holy month of Ramadan, The Clifton Times wishes you a Ramadan Mubarak.

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