Ramadan starts as the war between Israel and Hamas continues

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The first day of Ramadan is a day that brings millions of Muslims together around the world.

According to Imam, also known as the leader of a mosque, Mansour Mahmoud from the Greenville Islamic Center, fasting for Ramadan is an opportunity to get closer to God.

“Fasting is considered a journey of traveling from the physical body to the spiritual realm. We have this flesh and blood, the physical body, and we try to rise above the physical being,” Imam Mahmoud explained.

This journey has been rockier than ever this year, as the war between Hamas and Israel continues throughout the holy month.

“When we are fasting, it is not only reading in the news about the people suffering, we feel it. During Ramadan, I feel it. I feel the hunger,” Imam Mahmoud said.

Fasting is one of the ways to unite Muslims around the world during this sacred time.

“They are hungry because they have no choice. Some people cannot find the food to eat. So, this might make other people feel how they struggle when they are hungry,” Asif Daher, a Muslim from Greenville who has been fasting for Ramadan for over 40 years, shared.

Fatema Salem grew up in Palestine and has been fasting for Ramadan for over 20 years.

She says this year, Ramadan carries more weight with the ongoing war.

“We are hoping with our prayers, intensive prayers, and we are going to do extra prayers, we are hoping that this wound and whole bleeding and the war and genocide will be over very soon,” Salem said.

The Muslim Student Association with the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center at East Carolina University is also hosting dinner once their Muslim students break their fast Tuesday.