GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for those in the Muslim community.
"It's a special time of taking time out from your normal habits, and changing things around to work on your spiritual life and your relationship with God," said Imam Kip Curnutt.
He's a Muslim convert and has participated in Ramadan for 11 years. He fasts from sun up to sun down, or 6 a.m.–8 p.m. No food or drinks, and prayer six times a day.
"You can pray on your own in your house, or with their family at home, or anywhere that you'd like," said Imam Kip. "But to pray together in the mosque is better, right? Because we get that sense of community."
He says the mosque gets filled with people around 9:30 p.m., barefoot and practicing a ritual prayer of words and actions.
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"We stand while reciting the Quran and then we bow while saying certain praises of God," said Imam Kip, "and then the culmination of the perils, which we call Sagitta or prostration, where we put our foreheads on the ground and we say special prayers at that time."
The carpet faces northeast towards the city of Mecca: a direction Muslims around the world face for unity. Imam Kip says being considerate during Ramadan is important.
"If you know that somebody in your workplace or in your classroom, wherever it may be, is fasting, and you can kind of say, 'Hey, is there anything that we can do for you? Is there anything that you need?'" said Imam Kip.
He explains simple questions like that help people in the Muslim community feel more comfortable, accepted and appreciated.
After the sun sets, Muslims partake in Iftar, a meal eaten after fasting. It's also a meal that's important to eat with family.
Ramadan ends either on May 2 or earlier, depending on the moon phase. Then Eid begins, which is a big feast to celebrate making it through the holy month.
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