After two years marked by the covid-19 pandemic, Lisbon's Central Mosque is preparing to receive "hundreds of people" daily to break their fast after the sunset prayer, the imam of Lisbon's Central Mosque, Sheikh David Munir, told Lusa.

"The expectation is that there will be an increase [of believers going to the Mosque], compared to previous years," said David Munir, noting that the number of Muslims is increasing in the country, currently between 60,000 and 65,000.

"Before dawn until sunset, from 5am until 7pm, we are fasting. It's a total fast," said David Munir, stressing that all adult Muslims cannot eat and drink for 14 hours.

However, the religious leader recalled that there are exceptions. Children, the elderly, sick people, tourists and pregnant women are not required to fast.

"This is physical fasting. Fasting is much more than that: it is valuing what we have and feeling in the skin what others do not have (...) for their meals," noted David Munir.

The Ramadan celebrations in Portugal are expected to last until the last Friday of April, when a new Islamic lunar month – the Shawwal – will begin.

Fulfilling the Islamic year of 1444, which began on July 30, 2022 and will end on July 18, 2023, Muslims, in addition to fasting, take advantage of the month of Ramadan to "become more generous" and reflect.

The month of Ramadan – the ninth of the Islamic calendar – is also one in which Muslims believe that in the year 610 AD, the angel Gabriel revealed the Koran (the holy book of Islam) to the Prophet Muhammad.

"The next day is Eid's day. Eid means party and Fitr means break. Therefore, on that day [Eid al-Fitr] it is forbidden to fast. One cannot fast," David Munir stressed, indicating that Fitr is also a "small amount" of money offered to those most in need.

On the day of Eid al-Fitr, according to the sheikh of the Central Mosque of Lisbon, there is a special prayer in the morning between 7am and 8am, adding to the other five that are already celebrated.

With a solidarity component, the Islamic community has "always helped" the most needy people, envisioning donations of meals during the month of Ramadan, he said.

"Not everyone, unfortunately, is able to have a meal at home," he noted, adding that in addition to baskets being provided to the most needy in the mosque, a delivery of food is made by residences that need it."

According to David Munir, the Central Mosque of Lisbon tries to help "as much as possible" because it has very limited funds.

"We have not received any support from the state, nor from Santa Casa. There are supports that Muslim taxpayers residing in Portugal give and we try to divide the cake for the largest number of people," he said.