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Ramadan News Links: Ramadan Sun Challenges US Muslims

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  • Zafar Khan
    Ramadan will Inshallah begin this week. Possible start dates are from the 9th of July (Tuesday) till 12th of July (Fri) in different parts of the world. To
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 6, 2013
      Ramadan will Inshallah begin this week. Possible start dates are from the 9th of July (Tuesday) till 12th of July (Fri) in different parts of the world. To keep yourself up to date, make sure to read: http://www.islamawareness.net/Ramadhan/

      Ramadan Sun Challenges US Muslims
      OnIslam & Newspapers
      Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00


      CAIRO – Fasting for long hours under summer scorching sun, US Muslims are preparing for the holy fasting month of Ramadan which arrives this year under sizzling heat.

      "This is one of the most effective ways of learning self-control," Anwar Arafat, the imam at Al-Noor Mosque near downtown Salt Lake City, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday, July 5.

      "It teaches you to abstain from things that are normally OK and focus on the spiritual."

      American Muslims are expected to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, on Tuesday, July 9.

      In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

      The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

      "It is not meant to be detrimental to someone’s health," imam Arafat said.

      "In fact, fasting for them is a sin."

      To avoid the heat, many Muslims prefer to take their vacation days around Ramadan, so they can nap or rest in the afternoon.

      For Sharifa Al-Qaaydeh, the thirst is difficult.

      In the mornings, she stocks up on water and sports drinks.

      At night, she prepares large, home-cooked meals, some of which she made this week and put in an extra freezer in the garage.

      "The hardest thing is not drinking," says Al-Qaaydeh, who teaches nursing at the University of Utah.

      "When I was younger, Ramadan was in the winter. It is definitely harder in the summer."

      First Ramadan

      The high temperatures worry Miriam Jaziri, a Muslim mother who lives in Holladay with her husband and two sons, ages 8 and 11.

      "I am a little scared, but it usually turns out all right," Jaziri says.

      "Last year was really hot, too, but you get used to it."

      Sunrise is about 6 am these days, which means a Muslim family needs to arise, say prayers and finish eating for the day by then.

      Sunset is about 9 pm, after which the family members break their fast with a big meal — often with others or at the mosque — and then have evening prayers. Some people don’t get to bed before midnight.

      "We usually get up about 45 minutes before dawn starts," Jaziri said, "and first start off making myself some cereal and drink a lot of water."

      Jaziri plans to let her 11-year-old boy take part in the fast for Ramadan this year.

      "You want them to experience fasting by age of 7," she says.

      "Some Muslims let kids have a nice breakfast and then fast ’til noon. Or they have a snack fast … or fast from lunch ’til nighttime."

      Ramadan focuses "you on the essence of life," she said.

      "It reminds me why I am living, what really matters. It enhances my relationship with God."

      Muslims Feed Needy Canadians in Ramadan
      By Muneeb Nasir
      OnIslam Correspondent
      Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00


      TORONTO – Canadian Muslims have launched a campaign to feed the hungry in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, due to begin Tuesday, July 9, in North America.

      “The campaign asks those who are fasting to donate the money they are saving for the month - lunch, coffee and snacks - to the ‘Give 30’ campaign in support of Daily Bread Food Bank,” Ziyaad Mia, the founder of the ‘Give 30’ campaign, told OnIslam.net.

      The campaign, which started last year, asks Muslims and non-Muslims to give up $1 a day —$30 for the month — to help those in Toronto who are hungry.

      “The Ramadan-based initiative was launched in 2012 to build on the principle of social solidarity that fasting seeks to create among all people and across all distinctions between people,” said Mia, a Toronto-based lawyer.

      “As such, I have designed campaign to appeal to Muslims, but also to everyone else in our community, regardless of faith or background.

      “In that sense, the whole community can participate and share in Ramadan.”

      The funds raised will go to the Daily Bread Food Bank, a Toronto distribution center supplying other local food banks.

      As the hub of the food bank community in Toronto, Daily Bread Food Bank supports approximately 170 member agencies in running different kinds of food relief programs.

      Daily Bread member agencies see a monthly average of 66,000 clients.

      In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

      Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.

      It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.

      Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

      Islamic Principle

      Mia said the campaign shows a basic Islamic principle of helping those in need regardless of their faith.

      “I started `Give 30` because I was raised to see the world as one community - it is an enduring and deeply felt belief that I hold on to,” he told OnIslam.net.

      “If it were a motto it would be: One Creator - One Creation - that is how I see things.

      “Furthermore, faith, belief, devotion, worship are made manifest and real in the world through action and I have always understood Islam's strong call to service as one of service to all creation, not simply one community, tribe or group.”

      This year, the ‘Give 30’ campaign is slated to expand beyond Toronto to Calgary in the Western Canadian province of Alberta.

      “My humble human intent is simply to mobilize thousands and thousands of people in Canada, and maybe across North America, to take the initiative each Ramadan and act in the service of the broader community by addressing the needs of those who do not have enough to eat,” said Mia.

      “’Give 30’ should be an expression of common humanity in service of common cause.

      “I want it to reflect the best in us as human beings working toward enhancing compassion, social justice and dignity of all creatures,” added Mia.

      Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.

      Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011,

      Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.

      Cheerful Ramadan for Displaced Pakistanis
      By Aamir Latif, OnIslam Correspondent
      Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00


      PESHAWAR – Packing up his luggage in his make-shift hut in Jalozai camp near Peshawar, Khaista Rehman, 53, is preparing to return to his hometown to celebrate the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

      “This is the first good news I have heard since I left my home over three months ago that I am going to spend the holy month of Ramadan at my own home,” an evidently jubilant Khaista, a father of five, told OnIslam.net.

      Rehman was one of around 200,000 people, who had been forced to flee from Tirah valley, a far-flung area of Khyber agency, over fighting between Taliban militants and army troops.

      Most of the displaced people took refuge in adjoining Kurram agency, Orakzai agency, Kohat, Hangu, and Peshawar.

      Many are living off-camp in settlements and rented houses with local host communities.

      But days before the start of Ramadan, the refugees got good news from governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province to return home after the end of the military operation in the area.

      “I have this good news to tell you that you and your people will Inshaullah return to your homes before start of Ramadan,” governor Shaukatullah told a tribal Jirga (assembly) in Jamrud, the capital of Khyber agency, 15km north of Peshawar.

      The government also ordered a quick survey of the damage caused by the heavy fighting to the houses and other properties of tribesmen.

      “I am not much worried about damage. The excitement of returning home before Ramadan is simply overwhelming,” Rehman maintained.

      Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is set to start on July 9.

      In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

      Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.

      It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.

      Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

      Ramadan Joy

      Rehman said his return to his hometown adds to his joy of the holy fasting month.

      “I have been worried about spending Ramadan in a 14/12 size hut here in this shelter camp with five children,” he told OnIslam.net.

      “Reports coming from Tirah were not good too suggesting that I would not be able to return to my home for next many months,” said Rehman, a shopkeeper in a Tirah bazaar.

      “We could not get hold of even our belongings while fleeing the area. We could hardly pick up few clothes, some cash, and some edible items. The only thought in my mind at that time was to save my family.

      “I thought I would have to rely on government’s aid or assistance from some Islamic charities operating here to spend Ramadan and celebrate `Eid,” he remarked.

      “But all of a sudden, this good news changed the entire scenario.

      “Thanks to Allah. He has heard my prayers, and I am going to spend Ramadan at my home,” a smiling Rehman said.

      Hidayatullah Khan, a farmer from Tirah valley, shares the excitement.

      “Everyone is happy here after hearing this news,” Khan told OnIslam.net.

      “Look at their faces, don’t they look happy,” Khan said, pointing at half a dozen IDPs surrounding him.

      Haneef Khan, a student of grade 12, too appears to be excited.

      “This all still seems to be unbelievable,” Haneef told OnIslam.net with a big smile on his brown-bearded face.

      “You are talking about Ramadan, but here we were not expecting to return even before `Eid,” he said in reply to a question as to whether he was expecting this news before Ramadan.

      “A few days ago, we were conveyed by the administration that there was no immediate chance of returning home in near future.

      “But miracles do happen, and one of them is before you,” said a jubilant Haneef, citing an unexpected return of displaced people to their homes before Ramadan.

      Despite an overwhelming excitement, the displaced tribesmen appear to be little worried about the security situation in his hometown.

      “I am hopeful that nothing untoward would happen Inshaullah during this holy month as we expect both sides (military and Taliban) to maintain the sanctity of this holy month,” said Khan.

      “But, let me admit, I still harbor fear in my mind.”

      Citing various incidents of sudden firing from one side and instantly answered by other side, Khan said such security threats may prevent many not to return immediately.

      “I am not the one of them but I know many who want to wait and see,” he maintained.

      Though he agrees with Khan, Haneef is going to take a chance.

      “I hope that there will be a peaceful Ramadan for us Inshaullah.”

      Omantel’s Ramadan campaign stresses on giving and sharing
      byTimes News Service
      July 06, 2013 , 9 : 22 am


      Muscat: Omantel concluded the first phase of its Ramadan campaign which included distributing food ration packages for thousands of underprivileged families across the Sultanate. The campaign was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development, Dar Al Atta'a Association and volunteering staff from Omantel.

      "Our Ramadan campaign comes in line with our Sustainability Strategy, as one of its pillars is giving back to the community that we are part of. We have created this annual campaign in order to instil the values of sustainability within our staff, and reflect them onto the society.

      "The first phase of Omantel campaign has been crowned with success as we managed to distribute food ration packages to the underprivileged families before the advent of Ramadan.

      "I would also like to praise the role played by the Ministry of Social Development and its directorates as well as Dar Al Atta'a Association at the first stage.

      "This support has been very helpful in delivering the times and supplies to the families," said Laila Al Wahaibi, Manager Corporate Social Responsibility at Omantel. The Ramadan campaign is an annual initiative that highlights the values of 'Giving, Sharing, & Caring'.

      The first phase was around the 'Give' value, and the campaign is going to enter the second phase with the 'Share' value, and then to be concluded with the 'Care' value prior to Eid Al Fitr.

      Ramadan Truly Brought Me Closer to Allah
      (A Hungarian Revert Shares Her First Ramadan Experience)
      By Aya Timea
      Saturday, 06 July 2013 00:00


      I celebrated my first Ramadan... hm... let's see...oh, it's already been six years by now!

      Time is running, subhanAllah!

      I remember it was mid-September, the high school just started. The sun lost from his burning summer power, the days were bearably long.

      At that time, I was a Muslim only for half a year.

      The Funny Story of My First Sohoor (Pre-Dawn Meal)

      I already saw in my community Muslim sisters before making up their days of the last Ramadan and honestly, they looked just fine, none could tell looking at them that they're actually fasting. I was quite surprised. I also tried it for a day back at the end of the winter, when days are short, how it feels to fast.

      US Muslims Capture Ramadan in Photos
      OnIslam & Newspapers
      Saturday, 06 July 2013 00:00


      CAIRO – Muslims in California's Fresno valley are preparing for Ramadan with a special photography contest aiming at showing Islamic faith, interfaith unity and the spirits of the holy month.

      "This is our busiest time of the year," Seyed Ali Ghazvini, the imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, told Fresno Bee.

      "Members that you don't see regularly during the year, you see them at Eid."

      Anticipating for the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic center, the Valley's largest Muslim congregation, was preparing for a series of events though out Ramadan to bring Muslims together and unite them with non-Muslims.

      The events emphasize the importance of depending upon God and giving to others.

      Among these activities, which go through the holy month and end with the festival celebration of `Eid al-Fitr, was the annual photo contest.

      The photo competition, held for the second year, was a creative way to show the Islamic faith, respect for other faiths, Muslim culture and unity and diversity.

      Photographers were asked to respect people’s privacy and get permission before taking photos.

      At the end of each week of Ramadan last year, a panel of three judges selected a winning photo. It was then posted on the center's website and Facebook page as well as featured in the center's e-newsletter.

      Winners would be awarded cash with the amounts of $100, $60, $35 and $25.

      "A photo is an article by itself," he says.

      "It doesn't need words. It is a language that is understood globally. You don't need to know Arab, Spanish or any other language. It is a language that every person understands and appreciates."

      The idea of the contest was first suggested by Negin Tahvildary, a research assistant at the Islamic center and a teacher of Islamic Studies at Fresno State

      She wanted people to take photos at the center's Ramadan events that captured culture and traditions as well as the meaning of Islam.

      UAE hotels roll out Ramadan packages
      With occupancy declining, operators boost revenue with food and beverages
      By Sarah Algethami, Staff ReporterPublished: 15:07 July 6, 2013


      Dubai: From Arabic-themed restaurants serving iftar buffets to exquisitely decorated tents welcoming those who partake in late-night suhour, hotels in the UAE are lining up offers for the month of Ramadan.
      As the sun begins to set, many consumers across the country rush to restaurants to break their fast, and their wallets, too. As it is a period when families gather to shop and eat, consumption increases during Ramadan.
      Also, July and August represent some of the lowest hotel occupancy rates compared to other months.
      Occupancy in four- and five-star Dubai hotels is expected to stand between 60 and 65 per cent in July, and at around 70 per cent in August, said Rashid Abu Bakr, senior consultant at TRI Hospitality Consulting. “During Ramadan, room revenues go down because occupancy drops. So, food and beverages are a way to boost revenues,” Abu Bakr said.

      Inflation Worries Tunisians as Ramadan Nears
      05 July 2013 4:23 pm | Asma Smadh


      Tunisians across the country are preparing to celebrate the coming of Ramadan, but recent price increases are raising concerns about the expenses ahead during the holy month.

      Adult Muslims fast from dawn until sunset during the month of Ramadan, which begins on July 9 or July 10 this year, depending on the position of the moon. Family members gather to break the fast at night, a tradition many Tunisians embrace.

      Tunisia Live went to the streets of downtown Tunis to ask Tunisians about their preparations for this month.

      Mhadhbi, a middle-aged housewife, told Tunisia Live that she prepares spices and dishes such as couscous in her home in preparation for Ramadan.

      For Aicha, another young Tunisian mother, “nothing changes” during Ramadan, however. Her everyday routine remains the same.

      Aicha voiced her concerns about the expensive cost of goods this year, referring to the two dinar price raise of the turkey that she just bought.

      “We are only buying the necessities. We cannot be wasting money,” she said.

      Rached, a middle-aged man, reiterated Aicha’s concern.

      “We do our grocery shopping on a daily basis. No one these days is capable of shopping in bulk.”

      According to Rachid, a vendor at the Central Market downtown, “all year-round is Ramadan for wealthy people because they can fulfill all their desires.”

      People who cannot afford to buy whatever they want, however, suffer from “shock” during the month of Ramadan, he claimed. As a result, he asserted that they become more eager to purchase goods and spend more money.

      Saving Your Cigarette Money This Ramadan? Make it Count
      By Zack Petersen on 5:29 pm July 6, 2013.


      Most people who don’t smoke have little idea how much a pack of cigarettes sells for. But for Sekar Sosronegoro, the founder of Sembako Ramadhan, which converts money saved by volunteers who abstain from smoking during the holy month of Ramadan into much-needed staples — rice, sugar, oil — for families across Indonesia, being able to rattle off the price of a pack of smokes is key to her campaign.

      As Sekar explains on the campaign’s website, it really comes down to simple math. Cigarettes cost Rp 16,000 ($1.62) a pack and smokers typically go through three packs a week, which is Rp 48,000. During Ramadan, which starts on Tuesday, smokers take a break from cigarettes from sun up to sun down.

      “The idea behind Sembako Ramadhan, is that you don’t have to create an additional budget to participate,” says Sekar, a freelance communications consultant, who came up with the idea in 2011 while creating and implementing price comparison mechanisms at a development agency. “If you have a Rp 50,000 budget for cigarettes, but you’re cutting back during Ramadan, you smoke less and save money. You have the money, so why not donate it to Sembako?”

      In the last two years, Sembako Ramadhan has raised Rp 42 million in saved cigarette money, turning that cash into much-needed groceries for families during the month of Ramadan and the Idul Fitri holiday.

      Celebrated writer and documentary filmmaker Daniel Ziv was impressed by Sembako Ramadhan’s canny ability to change a negative habit into a positive campaign during the holy month.

      “I was impressed by Sembako Ramadhan the moment I first heard about it: a classic example of clever, innovative repurposing of resources from a negative habit to an important cause,” said Ziv.

      “It reminds us how a little bit of money from us can make a huge difference to others; and demonstrates how a meaningless smoking habit can instantly be turned into a meaningful charity tradition. Indonesia needs more initiatives like this. Let’s turn a million cigarette packs into a million staple food packs for the less fortunate.”

      Give up smoking plea for Ramadan
      8:00am Saturday 6th July 2013


      The month of Ramadan is approaching, and health bosses are hoping Muslims will take the opportunity to give up smoking.

      The Islamic period of fasting, prayer and self-reflection runs from Tuesday until August 7.

      In its 12th annual Ramadan stop-smoking campaign, Bradford Public Health will talk to mosque leaders and imams about the dangers of passive smoking, especially on children, and will give out leaflets to worshippers.

      This year’s campaign is being linked in with a national Smokefree Homes and Cars campaign, which is being run by Public Health England.

      The campaign highlights the dangers children face when they are exposed to second-hand smoke, putting them at greater risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death.

      Councillor Amir Hussain (above), executive member for health, said: “During Ramadan, people are encouraged to think about others and to look at the way they live their lives.

      “Second-hand smoke poses a very high health risk to children while the dangers of smoking are well-known. Choosing Ramadan as the time to give up is likely to benefit everyone.”

      Ramadan expo draws thousands
      Saturday 6 July 2013


      The National Consumer Industries annual exhibition organized by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) has been attracting huge crowds, with over 90 companies displaying their products ranging from food items to gifts.
      The exhibition, which comes to an end tomorrow, has on average logged about 5,000 visitors every day, the organizers told Arab News.
      The products being sold at the exhibition include clothes, juices, shoes perfumes, make-up accessories, traditional gifts, bags, cakes, jewelry and handicrafts, most of them produced in the Kingdom.
      “This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity for Jeddah residents and visitors to do all their Ramadan shopping under one roof,” said a visitor. “The prices are reasonable; I and my mother really enjoyed this exhibition and did a lot of shopping for Ramadan,” she said.
      Sumiya Patil, another visitor, said she was happy that she came to the exhibition as she could find all the things in one place for Ramadan and Eid. “I found very nice clothes and shoes for my children here,” she said.
      The good news for the residents is that there will be another exhibition during Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr.

      Why Channel 4 is bringing Ramadan into your home
      "No doubt Channel 4 will be criticised for focusing attention on a “minority” religion but that’s what we’re here to do – provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-represented"
      Ralph Lee
      8:00 AM, 06 July 2013


      On Tuesday 9 July, 2.8 million British people will undertake an extreme diet and they’ll curb, control and restrict their normal patterns of behaviour. They’ll forgo food, water, smoking, swearing and even sex, from dawn to dusk, in an attempt to focus on life’s big questions. It might sound like a boot camp or brand-new self-help movement but this is how Britain’s Muslim population marks the month of Ramadan – the most significant event in the Islamic calendar.

      A mass act of personal sacrifice and worship, it’s carried out every year, by increasing numbers of committed Muslims – yet the vast majority of people in Britain won’t even be aware of its existence. Not surprising when you consider its near invisibility on mainstream TV. Contrast this with the way most Muslims are represented on television – nearly always appearing in contexts related to extremism or terrorism. Even when moderate Muslims do appear, it’s often only to provide a counterpoint to these issues. Following the horrific events in Woolwich and subsequent reprisals against British Muslims, there has surely never been a more pressing need to give a voice to the moderate mainstream majority.

      It’s easy for non-Muslims to see Islam through a superficial prism of what is forbidden, and Ramadan through the physical hardship of fasting and control. For Muslims, however, Ramadan provides great physical and spiritual gains. It’s a time of reformation and reflection, whether that’s developing a greater awareness of the suffering of others, feeling a stronger affinity with their Muslim brothers and sisters around the world, or resolving to change the way they live their lives for the greater good.

      This year Channel 4 becomes the first mainstream British TV channel to broadcast the call to prayer (adhan). This melodic call to action, which rings out across the globe, will be transmitted directly into British living rooms at the exact time Muslims prepare for their first prayers and as they begin their fast every morning during Ramadan. Delivered by Hassen Rasool, considered one of the UK’s best muezzins, it will air every morning for the rest of Ramadan.

      People will also be able watch it online, via a dedicated website that will observe each and every single adhan throughout Ramadan at the times set out by the unified prayer timetable. The video of the call to prayer will automatically play at the same time as mosques all around London will be playing theirs. Observing the adhan on Channel 4 will act as a nationwide tannoy system, a deliberate “provocation” to all our viewers in the very real sense of the word.

      The calls to prayer prompt Muslims to carry out quiet moments of worship, but hopefully they’ll also make other viewers sit up and notice that this event is taking place. In another significant acknowledgement, Channel 4 News weatherman Liam Dutton will make the sunrise and sunset times a feature of his reports.

      No doubt Channel 4 will be criticised for focusing attention on a “minority” religion but that’s what we’re here to do – provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-repre- sented. And let’s not forget that Islam is one of the few religions that’s flourishing, actually increasing in the UK. Like Channel 4’s target audience, its followers are young. It’s recently been reported that half of British Muslims are under 25.

      Nearly five per cent of the country will actively engage in Ramadan this month – can we say the same of other national events that have received blanket coverage on television such as the Queen’s coronation anniversary?

      Ralph Lee is Channel 4’s head of factual programming.

      Ramadan Sharing to Unite US Faiths
      OnIslam Staff
      Sunday, 30 June 2013 00:00


      CAIRO – As the clock ticks towards the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, a US advocacy group has called on Muslim communities nationwide to enhance interfaith relations by sharing iftars with their neighbors of all beliefs and backgrounds.

      "The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said Ramadan 'is the month of sharing with others,'" Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.

      "All our research has shown that prejudice and stereotyping decrease when people of other faiths know more about Islam and interact with ordinary Muslims."

      Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.

      In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

      The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

      Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.

      Using the holy month to bring US faiths closer, the Washington-based group issued a "Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide 2013" that offers step-by-step advice on hosting an interfaith iftar.

      The guide includes instructions on forming a "Sharing Ramadan" committee, a sample media advisory for an iftar and advice on reaching out to local media.

      It also offers an advertisement for the event, text for a "Welcome to Our Ramadan Fast-Breaking" brochure, frequently-asked questions about Ramadan, and a sample event program and newspaper advertisement.

      “Sharing Ramadan is an annual campaign started by CAIR to encourage local communities to host iftar dinner receptions and open houses for our neighbors of other traditions,” Nihad Awad said in the “Sharing Ramadan” guide.

      “Since sharing and appreciation are essential components of Ramadan, we hope local mosques, community centers and Muslim schools will take this opportunity to invite their neighbors to join them for an iftar meal.”

      According to astronomical calculations, the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start on Tuesday, July 9.

      Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.

      A US survey had revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.

      A recent Gallup World Religion Survey found that 53% of Americans see Islam "not too favorable" or worse; a much higher percentage than expressed negative feelings about other major religions.

      Faith & Values: Ramadan fast has beauty, importance
      Jun. 29, 2013


      Ramadan, which will begin this year on July 9, is an especially important month in the Islamic calendar because it is believed to be the month when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, thus bestowing the revelations of God on humanity.

      Observant Muslims, numbering more than a billion throughout the world, will gather throughout the month with family and friends, build community, pray for peace and evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. And they will fast.

      While many religions, including Christianity, prescribe fasting at certain times, I frankly don’t know many Christians who fast very religiously. So just to be clear, my dear readers (most of whom are not Muslim), we aren’t talking about mild fasting. This isn’t your “I’ll skip a meal” or “I’ll give up pickled beets (which discerning eaters don’t touch anyhow)” and call it a fast.

      No, for observant Muslims, Ramadan is a strict fast. Nothing is consumed during daylight hours. Not a sip of water. Not a piece of candy. Neither a morsel nor a crumb. Nada, zip, zilch — from sunrise to sunset.

      The purpose of the fast is to help instill patience, self-sacrifice, spiritual cleansing, enlightenment and submissiveness to God.

      It’s important to note that not all Muslims are required to fast. Islam allows exemptions for children, pregnant women, travelers and people with health conditions that could be threatened by such a fast.

      For me, the importance and beauty of the Ramadan fast came alive five years ago. A Muslim friend of mine and I were part of a demanding physical excursion. While hiking steep mountains and crossing rivers, we were working with three other people — all from different countries — to overcome specific challenges and accomplish a common goal. Our only directional instrument was a partially accurate paper map.

      And through all of that, my friend maintained his fast. The rest of us ate our trail food and drank our water as needed.

      But my Muslim friend, without being self-righteous, simply stated that he fasted and prayed for peace out of his devotion to God. I was amazed and inspired by his witness.

      For the month of Ramadan, I hope you’ll support Muslim friends and colleagues. You can offer words of encouragement and inspiration. You can ask about family traditions, especially traditions around gathering together for the Iftar meal each evening to break the day’s fast.

      At this time (and others), you can boldly treat all people with honor and respect.

      And when anyone tries to spread the lie that Islam is a faith of violence, you can correct them with the truth that Muslims have just spent an entire month praying for peace.

      The Rev. Nathan Wilson is senior minister at First Christian Church in Shelbyville.

      How do Muslims observe Ramadan in places where the sun does not set?
      Jun 10th 2013, 23:50 by A.F.


      THE Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins at the sighting of the new moon in the ninth month of the lunar calendar. During Ramadan (which starts on July 9th this year) observant Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. Because it follows the lunar calendar, Ramadan shifts by 11 days a year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. In some places, like Saudi Arabia, that makes little difference to the number of hours a day Muslims must fast. But what happens in northern countries where there can be up to 24 hours of darkness or light, depending on the time of year? What about in Antarctica, where periods of continuous daylight and continuous darkness last several months? How do Muslims observe Ramadan in places where the sun does not set?

      This question has become more pressing as Muslims have ventured further afield from their original Arabian homeland, where the shortest day of the year lasts for around 12 hours and the longest for about 15. Islamic scholars have proffered various solutions. The strictest interpretation of the Koran, as argued by Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars, maintains that one must always observe local timings as long as night is distinguishable from day, even if that means fasting for more than 23 hours a day in the summer and for just a few hours during the winter. (The photo shows Kaltouma Abakar, a refugee from Sudan's Darfur province, breaking her fast during the four-hour night in Rovaniemi, a city in northern Finland.) In those places where the sun does not set at all, one must observe the times of the nearest place where it does.

      But other scholars argue that this makes for confusion over which city to follow, and that it is anyway unreasonable and not in the spirit of Islam to require people to fast for such long periods. Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, one of the world’s most respected Islamic institutes, has ruled that Muslims should not fast for more than 18 hours a day. “We are not supposed to starve to death,” says Salman Tamimi, head of the Muslim Association of Iceland. Some communities, like the 1,000 or so Icelandic Muslims, therefore follow a fatwa (Islamic ruling) which recommends observing the fast times of the 45th parallel. Others, in Alaska and Sweden for example, instead observe the times of Mecca, since that is the place to which the Koran’s verses originally referred, a ruling backed by the European Council of Fatwa and Research. Yet another group of scholars suggests fasting for 12 hours irrespective of the time of year, because an average day offers 12
      hours of sunlight.

      And what of observing Ramadan from low-earth orbit, where each period of daylight lasts just 45 minutes? In 2007, when Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a Malaysian astronaut, became the first observant Muslim to go into space during Ramadan, Malaysia’s government published a 20-page booklet of guidelines, confirming that astronauts should follow the same prayer and fasting times as the location from which their spacecraft lifted off—in this case, the Baikonur launch pad. “There is no monolithic standard,” says Imam Abdullah Hasan of the Neeli mosque in Greater Manchester, Britain. “The beauty of Islam is its flexibility.”
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