WHO: Muslims, the people who follow the way of life, the religion, called Islam. Your friend, neighbor, coworker, teacher, student or boss could be a Muslim. There are about 1.2. billion Muslims worldwide and close to six million Muslims in America.
WHAT: Will be fasting or have already started doing so.
WHEN: During the month of Ramadan. This is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on November 6, 2002. Ramadan lasts 29 to 30 days, depending on the lunar cycle, which the Islamic calendar is based on.
WHERE: Worldwide. Muslims don't just live in the Middle East in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon or in Asia in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. There are Muslims in the US, England, France, Spain, Italy and in various parts of the world.
WHY: Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan to develop God consciousness, self-control and willpower. They want to become closer to God through this act of worship (fasting) and also through extra acts of prayer and charity which are encouraged in Ramadan.
HOW: The fast takes place as follows:
- Before dawn, Muslims are encouraged to wake up and eat a meal, called Suhoor in Arabic.
- Starting from dawn, they begin the fast. Fasting means they do not eat anything, drink anything (including water) or have sex with their spouses from this time until sunset.
- During the day, they maintain a normal schedule. In Muslim countries, it is common for employers to reduce the working day to ease workers' schedules.
- Muslims maintain the usual five daily prayers during their fast. They should also abandon unacceptable behavior (which they are required to do at all times) such as lying, cheating, cursing, etc.
- Sunset: At this time, Muslims break their fast with joy and gratefulness to God. Muslims are encouraged not to overeat.
- It is recommended that Muslims give generously in charity during this month.
- It's a time for seeking God's forgiveness for past errors and striving to gain His Mercy.
- Muslims are highly encouraged to feed the poor, but also, fellow fasting Muslims.
Photo Attribution: - liz west - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sky_event.jpg