Month offers opportunity to learn about Islam, Muslims
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, the Muslim community in Minnesota and around the world began the month-long fast of Ramadan (rom-a-don), the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from dawn to sunset.
Because the beginning and end of Islamic lunar months depend on the sighting of the new moon and different communities use varying methods to determine the moon-sighting, the start and end dates for Ramadan may vary.
The fast is performed to exercise 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.
Local mosques host iftars (fast-breaking meal) on a daily basis, as well as other social activities. Mosques also have special prayers, called taraweeh, after the daily nighttime prayer. In the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadan, Muslims mark Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power" or "Night of Destiny").