MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
As the darkness of night swept over Camp Pendleton, the recitation of the Adhan could be heard throughout the halls of the Blinder Memorial Chapel, Aug. 2.
Pendleton's Muslim community gathered for Iftar, an evening meal to break fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
"Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam," said Asif I. Balbale, a practicing Muslim and chaplain with Assault Amphibian School Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. "It is an opportunity to revive your spirituality."
During Ramadan, Muslims show their religious dedication by refraining from daily cravings like eating or drinking during daylight hours.
"(In America) we don't have a large Islamic community, especially for myself being in the military," said Gunnery Sgt. Jimi Khamisi, crash chief with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. "At times, it's very hard to stay disciplined."
Fasting is a way to strengthen self-discipline and remember the world's less fortunate who might not have the choice to go without essential items, Khamisi said.
Just after sunset, Muslim attendees took part in Maghrib prayer, one of the five formal daily prayers followed by a long overdue meal.
"It’s customary now to have Iftar parties," said Balbale. "It's an opportunity to come together with people from different walks-of-life."
Many Muslims believe that feeding someone Iftar, as a means of charity, is very rewarding and coincides with the third Pillar of Islam, almsgiving.
"It's always good when you can open fast with other Muslims," said Khamisi. "It's then that you feel the glory of that month."
The importance of spiritual fitness has even been addressed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps as being crucial to a Marines well being. For Muslim Marines, Ramadan and Iftar Parties are ways to enhance theirs, said Balbale.