Mus­lims pre­pare for start of fast­ing dur­ing month of Ra­madan

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION & WORLD 2 -

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — Mus­lims around the world stocked up on gro­ceries and dates Wed­nes­day for even­ing meals to break dawn-to-dusk fast­ing dur­ing the month of Ra­madan.

Saudi Ara­bia and other Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tions, like Egypt and In­done­sia, de­clared Ra­madan would be­gin Thurs­day based on a moon-sight­ing method­ol­ogy. Mus­lims fol­low a lu­nar cal­en­dar, and a moon-sight­ing method­ol­ogy can lead to dif­fer­ent coun­tries declar­ing the start of Ra­madan a day or two apart.

Some mosques in the U.S. had al­ready de­clared the start of fast­ing Wed­nes­day while oth­ers will be­gin Thurs­day.

The Ra­madan fast, in which food and even a sip of wa­ter are pro­hib­ited, is in­tended to bring the faith­ful closer to God and re­mind them of those less for­tu­nate.

While fast­ing, Mus­lims must also ab­stain from sex, gos­sip and curs­ing. Mus­lims are en­cour­aged to spend time in con­tem­pla­tion, prayer, read­ing the Qu­ran and char­ity dur­ing the day.

Just as the sun be­gins to set, Mus­lims tra­di­tion­ally break their fast as the Prophet Muham­mad did 1,400 years ago, by eat­ing dates and drink­ing wa­ter, fol­lowed by a sun­set prayer. At night, many fill mosques for even­ing prayers, known as taraweeh.

Be­fore dawn to pre­pare for the next day of fast­ing, fam­i­lies of­ten wake in the night for a light meal known as suhoor, eat­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles, or a small dish with beans, lentils, bread or rice.

Mus­lims cel­e­brate the end of Ra­madan with a three-day hol­i­day called Eid al-Fitr.

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