Ramadan 2014 in Harford

Harford County Muslims pray during a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner held for the community last year. The month of fasting begins anew at sundown Saturday. (Aegis file photo, Baltimore Sun Media Group / June 28, 2014)

Harford County's Muslim community is observing the month of Ramadan, which begins at sundown Saturday, and is reaching out to residents of all faiths with a community-wide dinner that will be held next month.

Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar, is primarily known for the observance of a fast from dawn to sunset each day. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity and pilgrimage to Mecca.

An "iftar," or fast-breaking dinner, will be held at sundown, at about 8:30 p.m., on July 19 at Masjid Al-Falaah, also known as the Harford County Education Society, at 3014 Philadelphia Road in Abingdon.

The local congregation includes about 130 families in Harford County, organizer Rehan Khan said.

The membership's growth has been a bit smaller from the mosque's leaders original expectations ofpeople of the Muslim faith moving to Harford because of base realignment at Aberdeen Proving Ground, he said.

"We are seeing more growth but not as much as we were anticipating," Khan said.

The community iftar will include mostly Indian and Pakistani food, as has been the case in years past, he said.

"We have been doing it for a few years and a lot of people like it," he said. "This is something that we want to share with people of other faiths, so they can come and see who we are and what we do."

Khan said the congregation hopes to continue educating people about Islam and their Muslim neighbors.

"A lot of people still are not familiar with Ramadan and Islam, so we do need to do a better job than we have and convey the message," he said. "We would love to see our Christian and Jewish neighbors join us. It would be a real honor."

Last year's community iftar drew approximately 250 people, including community leaders like state Del. Glen Glass, Khan said at that time.

"This is open to everyone and all are welcome," Khan said about the planned meal on July 19.

The end of Ramadan will be marked by communal prayers called "Eid ul-Fitr," or Feast of the Fast-Breaking, on July 28.

For more information, contact Rehan Khan, 202-236-7338 or alfalaah7@google.com.