Mariam Diallo, 10, talks with her mother, Fatima, after dinner on the 27th day of Ramadan at the Jamia Masjid mosque Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. Jamila Laroussi is at left. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.
By Andrea Domanick
Sat, Aug 18, 2012 (2 a.m.)
The sun is beginning to set behind the mosque of the Islamic Society of Nevada on East Desert Inn Road, its undulating domes and jutting minaret blending with the hodgepodge geometry of the Strip’s skyline in the distance.
Outside, a few boys play on their skateboards while the parking lot fills with Muslim worshippers arriving for Iftar, the daily fast-breaking meal eaten during the holy month of Ramadan, which began July 20 and ends today.
After a snack of dates, melon and water, followed by prayer, congregants line up — women on one side, men on the other — in the dining hall to fill their plates. It is after sunset, and this is their first meal since before daybreak.
The evening’s offerings include traditional Pakistani curries, Arab cheese pastries, an Indian dairy drink called sharbat and pizza; it’s a meal almost as diverse as the congregants themselves.
“Las Vegas has all the varieties of all the cultures and beliefs,” says Samira Rachih, a Moroccan immigrant who works as a library research assistant and Arabic tutor. “To be Muslim here is to be like part of a symphony.”
She introduces others at the table: to her right, a woman from Jamaica, to her left, an Afghani. Two women from Kenya and Pakistan wave from a few seats down. Some of them wear the hijab, or traditional Muslim head scarf, wrapped closely around their faces and necks; others let a strand or two of hair fall loosely beneath. Some sport bold hues and fine fabrics adorned with sequins; others opt for simpler looks in solid black or blue scarves.
Despite the fact that they’ve been fasting since sunrise, eating seems almost like an afterthought, the rice and tandoori chicken on their plates neglected in favor of excited chatter about their workdays or the upcoming Eid ul-Fitr festival, which marks the end of Ramadan.
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