Muslim Fast of Ramadan Begins November 17
On November 17, 2001, the Muslim community in America and around the world will begin the month-long fast of Ramadan (rom-a-don). Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset.
The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments. Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. The end of Ramadan will be marked by communal prayers called "Eid ul-Fitr," or Feast of the Fast-Breaking, on December 16, 2001.*
"During this time of crisis, the fast of Ramadan offers people of all faiths an opportunity to learn more about Islam and about the Islamic community in America," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group.
The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states:
"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint…Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting … " (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)
Demographers say Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world. There are an estimated 7 million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide.