The Islamic cultural center of Fresno estimates there are as many as 25-thousand Muslims here in the Central Valley. We caught up with one Fresno family who by all accounts is the typical modern American family ... but also very tied in to the observance of Ramadan.
As the sun sets on the horizon the Ali family prepares to break the fast. For fifteen hours Irfan and Monica and their three sons have gone without food or water. Monica pours glasses of water and sets out figs and dates for the boys ... but before they indulge in the evening feast, they head to the living room for prayer.
Muslims pray five times a day every day ... but during Ramadan ... they also fast ... all food and all drink -- including water -- from sun up to sun down.
Ismail ... Ibraheem and Ishaq eat breakfast at 4:30 in the morning. They are literally parched and starving by the time the sun goes down. But the evening meal becomes more than just nourishment ... it's a time of coming together as a family.
Irfan Ali said, "From the Muslim perspective, it's a lot of fun. It's a good celebration for us ... we look forward to it. It's a very spiritual time of the year ... it's also a very family time of the year ... we spend a lot of time together ... we breakfast together."
Fasting does not come easy for these growing boys. 15 year old Ishaq not only goes to school all day long ... he plays water polo at Edison High School. 18 year old Ibraheem is a freshman at Fresno State taking 21 units and working. 20 year old Ismail is also at Fresno State ... plays on the water polo team and works.
The Islamic faith requires only adults to fast ... but all three Ali boys chose to go without food and water during Ramadan when they were in middle school.
Ibraheem Ali said, "During the other 11 months of the year, I'm constantly on the grind ... doing something ... always moving to the next step. Ramadan allows me to continue to do those things, but in a much more reserved mindset."
Because Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and is determined only through observation of the first sliver of the new moon ... the end of the fast could come either September eighth ... or the ninth or the tenth. Irfan Ali says as head of his household ... he will probably "call it" on Thursday the eighth.