Ramadan is almost here, which means another holy month of good deeds and daily fasting for Muslims. Abstaining from food and drink during Ramadan is meant as a period of reflection. The fasting itself is supposed to remind Muslims of the hardships that are suffered by those who cannot afford to eat or drink when they need to, which works as a simple reminder of our own blessings.
The daily fast starts with a very early pre-dawn meal, or suhoor, and lasts until iftar, or the meal to break fast, which is usually around 8 p.m., depending on when the sun sets. That’s roughly 16 hours without eating or drinking. To mark the end of Ramadan, there is a big celebration to commemorate the month of prayers, fasting, and good will with friends and family, known as Eid al-Fitr. The Eid al-Fitr celebrations tend to last two whole days. This year, Ramadan begins May 5 and ends with Eid al-Fitr on June 3-4.
Even though fasting is a big part of observing Ramadan, on a larger scale, it really is about connecting and sharing with loved ones. Many local organizations and city agencies take the opportunity to strengthen ties in the community, too. For example, the NYPD hosts an annual pre-Ramadan conference, while the NYC Mayor’s Office Of Immigrant Affairs often organizes neighborhood iftars. Whether you are a Muslim Brooklynite looking for a good spot for Iftar dinner, or a curious non-Muslim who wants to learn more about Islam and this celebrated holy month, we’ve got you covered.
Similar to other faiths that have their own restrictions on what one is allowed to eat based on religious traditions, Islam has its own dictations. Any food that is consumed by Muslims must be halal, which translates from the Arabic word to English as “permissible.” Basically, what counts as halal food is what is permissible by Islamic law. Much of this relates to how the food is prepared, particularly when it comes to treating livestock. Then there are animal products that Muslims cannot eat simply because they are forbidden or haram according to Islamic tradition, like pork, no matter how it is prepared or cooked.
Buka, located on 946 Fulton Street, is a Nigerian restaurant that offers meaty halal dishes that can be a tasty option for an iftar meal. Expect to get your fix of traditional West African dishes here with offerings like suya (lamb with dried spicy seasoning), moi moi (steamed honey bean cake with hard boiled egg and flaked fish), choice of protein with egusi sauce (ground melon seeds steamed with spinach and dried fish), and fufu (pounded yam).
This casual (and halal) Pakistani-burger joint has built a reputation for serving one of the best meat burgers in New York City, receiving sparkling reviews from Thrillist and the New York Times. It’s a small place and can get pretty crowded during the weekend, but what they lack in commercial space they make up plenty in big flavors. Their famous BK Jani Burger is a South Asian twist on the classic American dish, made up of a perfectly cooked meat patty (made with a secret five-meat blend), grilled tomatoes, their signature mint chutney, and raita—a cumin and mint yoghurt sauce.
Halal food carts are easy to spot with their large labels of HALAL stuck all over their exterior. One halal food cart in particular that you can find in Bushwick—parked at the corner of 72 Bogart Street—is the Yasin Halal Food cart. The menu offers your typical mediterranean dishes, like meat over rice, gyros, and falafels. Get your money’s worth here with delicious halal food served in generous portions.
Located at 1294 Myrtle Avenue, this restaurant is owned by a Yemeni immigrant who has lived in Brooklyn for many years, serving hearty and halal dishes. Some of their most popular dishes are the chicken kabobs meal, falafels, and fried kabob sandwiches, which come with a traditional Yemeni dipping sauce on top. What’s unique about this place is that it also serves items that you would find in a cafe with a sizable brunch menu, coffee, and—bonus—free wi-fi.
The Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) has partnered with the Williamsburg Muslim Mosque to host an interactive listening party to learn and discuss the history of the borough’s Muslim residents. The discussion will include fascinating oral histories shared from the BHS collection, and will be led by BHS Historian Zaheer Ali and Project Coordinator Liz Strong starting at 2 p.m. at the mosque. Participants of the event are also welcome to come early by 12:45 p.m. for a special guided tour of the mosque led by its caretaker and Vice President of the Board Alyssa Haughwout. Can’t make the date? BHS will be hosting a second event in June.
Where: The Williamsburg Moslem Mosque, 106 Powers Street, Brooklyn, NY
When: Sat, May 18, from 12:45 p.m. until end.
Got a group of friends who you want to share an iftar dinner with, while giving back to the less fortunate? For $200, you can book a table for 10 at the grand Brooklyn Iftar organized by Islamic Relief USA.This event will be an opportunity for Muslims in the borough to break the day’s fast and donate to charity. There will be a halal iftar dinner and discussion with guest speakers Imam Suleiman Hani (Almaghrib Institute) and Suzy Ismail (Cornerstone), followed by Taraweeh Prayer.
Where: Dyker Beach Golf Course, 1020 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY
When: Thurs, May 23, 2019, 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Hosted by the Kings Bay Y and the Turkish Cultural Center, this event is as much of a fast-breaking dinner as it is an interfaith celebration of tolerance and respect. Both halal and kosher food will be served. Be sure to grab your spot as seats are limited.
Where: Kings Bay Y, 3495 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
When: Thurs, May 16, 2019, 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Build a better New York City with the Interfaith Center of New York by celebrating the start of the Ramadan month with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Halal and vegetarian options will be served to break fast, as well as healthy interfaith prayer and conversations led by human rights organizer Rana Abdelhamid. Taraweeh Prayer will commence for Muslim participants following the dinner.
Where: Cadman Plaza Park, North Lawn by Gaynor Memorial, Brooklyn, NY
When: Mon, May 13, 2019, 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Mingle, eat, and enjoy artistic performances at this community iftar event hosted by the Open Stage creative space in Brooklyn.
Where: BKLYN Commons, 495 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
When: Fri, May 10, 2019, 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.
Charity is a big part of celebrating Ramadan, so the Muslim American Society’s Youth Center is collecting donations to fully or partially sponsor an iftar dinner. The meal packages will be accepted starting May 10 through Ramadan every Friday and Saturday, and will help feed those in need. Contact the MAS Youth Center for more information on how to get involved.
Where: MAS Youth Center, 1933 Bath Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
When: May 10 until May 24, 2019, at 8:00 p.m.
Cover photo courtesy of @Halalgirlnewyork.
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