Thursday, September 13, 2007


Today is the start of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, the most sacred holiday of the Muslim year. It is a time of atonement somewhat similar to Yom Kippur and Lent. Ramadan is divided into three 10-day parts: Rahmat (mercy of God), Maghfirat (forgiveness of God), and Najat (salvation).

Ramadan is a time of worship, reading the Qur'an, charitable acts, and the purification of individual behavior. Fasting is considered to be the third pillar or religious obligation of Islam, providing many benefits including learning self-control. During this period, Muslims must abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual intercourse from dawn until dusk each day. At the end of the day, fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. After the meal, it is customary to visit family and friends. It is common to go to the Mosque and spend several hours praying and studying the Quran.

The good that is acquired through the fast can be destroyed by five things: the telling of a lie; slander; denouncing someone behind his back; a false oath; and greed or covetousness. These are considered offensive at all times, but are most offensive during the Fast of Ramadan

Ramadan ends with Eid-al-Fitr or the Festival of Fast-Breaking.


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