OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area's Muslim community is preparing for the start of the holy month of Ramadan. This marks the first Ramadan with eased COVID protections since the pandemic began.
Inside the Lighthouse Mosque in North Oakland there's a tangible excitement.
"What I like about Ramadan is as soon as it comes, I'm very happy. It's like my best friend coming to visit me," said Abdul Malik Love.
"It's a time when you see everybody that's probably Muslim in the Bay Area," said Bilal Mustafa.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for the Bay Area's 250,000 strong Muslim community.
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This year, it'll not only mark a period of reflection, but one of reunion as well.
This Ramadan will be the first since mask and capacity orders have been lifted across the Bay Area.
"When everything first shut down in March of 2020, it was like one month out before Ramadan. So our Ramadan plans got scrapped that year. But this Ramadan, I feel like we might be back to full capacity. So I'm looking forward to that," said Sundiata Rashid, Lighthouse Mosque.
It's a month that Muslims around the world look forward to each year, starting with the siting of the crescent moon.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is marked by fasting, reflection, charity and prayer.
It is believed that the first verses of Islam's holy scripture, the Quran, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during this time.
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"And the same thing happens at the end. If you find the moon you fast one more day. If you don't see it, you don't have to fast anymore," said Aiesha Alrashid
The more than two billion observant Muslims around the world will engage in fasting from food, drink and sexual intercourse between dawn and sunset each day of the month.
The community will break their fast each night with Iftar meals.
The Lighthouse Mosque is hosting three break fast meals for the community on April 8, 20 and 27.
The Mosque has rented out Humanist Hall in Uptown Oakland to accommodate the larger crowds.
The community is welcome to attend Iftar around 7p.m. on the above dates.
You would think everybody's gonna be hungry and grumpy-and you get a couple of grumpy folks-but for the most part everybody's super happy and friendly and just glad to see each other," said Rashid.
"I liked the seclusion that we found (during the) stay-at-home orders and the social distancing, but I'm looking forward to the community being able to come together," said Amelah El-Amin.
"During Ramadan, I most look forward to getting more acquainted with the Quran, which is God's word. In this month we read the Quran from beginning to end. Just getting that whole message is just a blessing," said Mustafa.
"May this Ramadan be our best Ramadan," said Love.