VOA News — Muslims around the world are preparing to observe the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin late Sunday or Monday, depending on the first sighting of the new moon. The faithful are expected to spend the month fasting during daylight hours, eschewing even water, and spending more time in prayer and study of the Quran. They are supposed to avoid bad habits and indulgences, such as smoking and sex.
Cultural differences and even geography have led to differences in the ways Muslims observe the holy month. Fasting during daylight hours has proven difficult for people living near polar regions during the long days of the summer.
Muslim clerics have in the past few years issued fatwas allowing Muslims in regions where the sun does not set in summer — or, when Ramadan falls in winter, where the sun does not rise — to follow the sunrise and sunset times of Mecca.
Ramadan for American Muslims
Like their fellow worshippers around the world, Muslims in the United States are watching the skies and preparing for the holiest month. Palestinians walk in front of traditional lighted Ramadan lanterns, marking the holy month of Ramadan at main market in Gaza City, June 3, 2016.
Jibril Hough, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, North Carolina, says Ramadan is different in the United States than in countries with larger Muslim populations. Hough says because there are fewer Muslims in the United States, Ramadan is a time to gather at the mosque with fellow believers, rather than at home, as the faithful might do elsewhere.
“The Ramadan experience is more collective,” he says. “We are a religious minority in America and … especially toward the end of Ramadan, we bring food to the masjid (mosque), it becomes more like a family reunion. A lot of times you see brothers and sisters that you haven’t seen all year.
Like most Muslims, Hough continues to work during Ramadan, which is challenging when one’s job is physically demanding and the North Carolina summer is in full swing.It is also not easy to explain to his non-Muslim coworkers why he can’t have a drink of water when he gets thirsty. But he says his religious commitment makes the sacrifice worth it. “You know you have to do it,” he says. “God has commanded you to do it. That’s half the battle right there. A lot of it is mental.” Click here for more www.voanews.com