Ramadan begins fast and goodwill

Burbank Leader

September 23, 2006

By Robert S. Hong

GLENDALE — Sundown on Friday marked the beginning of Ramadan, a time when Muslims worldwide will begin a month of prayer and fasting.

The occasion in part celebrates the time when the Qur’an was believed to be revealed from God to the prophet Muhammad and is also the ninth month in the lunar calendar.

During the month many Muslims will refrain from eating and drinking during the daylight hours and will partake in extended prayer sessions at their local mosque, said Edina Lekovic, spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Southern California. “Ramadan is a 30-day exercise in self-restraint and provides an opportunity to focus on developing relationships with God, family and community,” she said. The center will be hosting prayer and services every night throughout the month starting at 7:30 p.m. where they will be reading from the Qur’an. A portion will be read every day throughout the month.

Aside from prayer and reflection, Ramadan is also a time to strengthen ties with family and community, Lekovic said. “Faith really comes alive on the community level,” she said. “You feel a connection with God and family and the larger society.”

Every night after a full day of fasting, families may celebrate “Iftar” — the first meal of the day. At the end of the 30 days, family, friends and the community often gather to celebrate “Eid” — the end of the month-long fast — with a meal and activities, often held at the mosque, Lekovic said.

“The significance of fasting comes from the idea that remembering those who are needy is a way of remembering God,” she said.

Along with fasting, Muslims are encouraged to donate to charity during Ramadan, an act that often benefits organizations such as the Islamic Relief.

“A lot of Muslims opt to [donate] during Ramadan, because any good deed is rewarded more,” said Arif Shaikh of Islamic Relief in Buena Park. “We increase aid projects as well during this month.”

The large increase in donations allows the organization to carry out projects such as Humanitarian Day, on the third weekend of Ramadan, Shaikh said.

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