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The Muslim Holiday of

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The Holiday of Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This month lasts 29 or 30 days and occurs during different seasons depending on the cycle of the calendar. It is believed that during this month the Qur'an or Koran was given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. In 2004, Ramadan will Occur on or about October 16.

The fast of Ramadan lasts the entire month. During Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. All those who have reached the age of puberty (usually 12 years of age) are expected to observe the fast. Sexual abstinence is also practiced during these hours. Each day a special effort is made to say the five daily prayers. Muslims are also expected to feed a poor person during this month. Ramadan is also a time for Muslims to concentrate on the practice of their faith. Time is spent praying, worshipping, contemplating, and receiving religious instruction. Muslims give thanks for the gift of the Koran. If one is ill or on a journey during Ramadan, one can fast the same number of days that were missed at a later time.

The fast is broken at sunset and begins again the next morning when there is enough light to distinguish a black thread from a white thread. The morning prayer is said after suhur, the pre-dawn meal.

During Ramadan, there is a festival-type atmosphere after sunset. In many cities Muslims go out after they have broken the fast to visit family and friends or to simply take a walk. Shopping areas and restaurants are open and busy and alive with conversation. On the 27th day of Ramadan, fireworks are often set off to celebrate the night of power-the night that Muhammed first received revelation of the Koran in 610.

Ramadan is a time to celebrate and give thanks for the gift of the Koran. It is a time to remember the poor, to practice self-mastery, and to recommit one's self to the Islamic faith.

The end of Ramadan is a joyous occasion known as Eid-el-Fitr, typically lasting three days. It is known as the festival of ever-recurring happiness and is celebrated with special prayers, feasts, sweets and gift giving. The time is also known as Kurban Bayrami, Hari Raya Puasa in South East Asia and Seker Bayrami in Turkey.


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