More than fasting: Fishers’ Alhuda mosque celebrates holy month of Ramadan


Throughout the world, Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramadan. It’s a time of fasting, reflection and reconnecting with faith and family. Members of the Alhuda Mosque in Fishers are no exception, with special events planned throughout the month, culminating in a big celebration in later April of the Eid al-Fitr.

Ramadan started March 23, and the last day of fasting is April 20. Dr. Nasser Karimian, the mosque’s imam, said it’s a month of spiritual growth — a time to reset and renew faith and train to be the best version of yourself.

“And since everyone is doing it together, you can see how others are striving and encouraging each other,” he said.

Karimian has prepared a talk for each night of Ramadan. He said he picks a theme each year and this year he focused on the parables of the Quran. Karimian said many of the approximately 40 parables are not particularly clear in their meaning, and he wants to help others interpret the messages.

“I won’t make it through all of them, but hopefully I will go through enough that people will gain an understanding,” he said.

The mosque, which also runs a school, has a large gymnasium that people can rent out for events. Karimian said different families have rented out the space each night of Ramadan to host special dinners for family and friends. Karimian said the families also will welcome converts who don’t have Muslim family members to eat with for the evening meal.

During Ramadan, most Muslims fast from before sunup to sundown. That means no food or water during that time period. The evening meal at sundown is called an iftar.

Moayad Moallem is vice president of the board of directors at Alhuda Foundation. He said Ramadan is about much more than just fasting.

“The idea of Ramadan for us is to control your desires, be able to improve yourself, control your behaviors, control the way you talk, be nice and be generous,” he said. “Muslims are supposed to be very generous at Ramadan. We also do a lot of fundraising for different local, national and international charities.”

The mosque collects donations for causes throughout the year and runs a food pantry that’s open to everyone. But Ramadan is the biggest time of giving — charity is an important element to the holy month.

Karimian said the point of Ramadan is to take the emphasis off the physical and to focus on the spiritual and metaphysical.

“Whether it be love, family, knowledge, faith, being more charitable, fighting against greed, this is the concept behind Ramadan,” he said.

Muslims also are supposed to read the entire Quran during that month and come to the mosque to pray each night.

And at the end of the month, Muslims celebrate Eid al Fitr, the holiday marking the close of Ramadan. It’s a three-day celebration, and the first day is when they will gather as one large group in a rented space — because the mosque isn’t big enough for everyone who attends.

Karimian said that for Eid, people are supposed to unite the largest group as possible to mark the holiday. The mosque has combined its Eid gathering with another mosque in the past, and he hopes to eventually create an Indianapolis-wide celebration.

Moallem said in previous years, 3,500 to 4,000 people got together for the celebration, which starts with prayer.

“And then we celebrate,” he said. “The kids have fun. We give a lot of bags of goodies and food and sweets. Everybody brings a dish of sweets or something to eat. Everybody gives gifts to the kids and gifts for each other.”

The mosque does conduct outreach beyond the Muslim community. Karimian said he works with other faith leaders, and they have good, eye-opening conversations about their religions.  Moallem added that people are welcome at the mosque, and they frequently have people stopping in for a tour.

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Congregants gather for Friday prayers at the mosque in Fishers. (Photo by Adam Seif)

How it’s done?

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan marks the month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel.

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, which is a 12-month lunar calendar. A lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than a standard Western calendar, which means the time of year Ramadan occurs changes each year.

Who fasts for Ramadan?

Any Muslim who is able to fast is supposed to participate. Those who are excused from fasting include young children, people who are sick, pregnant or menstruating, and those who are traveling. Moallem said adults who can’t fast are supposed to give more to charity to make up for it.

When do Muslims eat during Ramadan?

There is a pre-dawn meal called the suhur, when fasting Muslims eat and drink water before the day’s fast begins. Then they abstain from food and beverages until sundown, when they break their fast with the iftar.

What is a good Ramadan greeting to offer?

You can say Ramadan mubarak or Ramadan kareem.