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Next week will mark the beginning of the month of Ramadan, and Muslims from all over the world will be celebrating and embracing this special month.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it has great significance as it marks the revelation of the Quran. It is considered the most sacred month, and it is a spiritual time to refine both the body and the soul.

It is the time when Muslims have empathy for each other and practice religious observances, as they share meals with family and friends, help the needy, and perform extra prayers to seek Allah’s forgiveness.

During Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting from dawn until sunset. This means they abstain from eating, drinking, or doing anything that would be considered a sinful act. This is a ritual which Muslims are committed to perform, except children, older people or anyone with health problems. While it may appear to be a difficult ritual as it requires great self-restraint, it is also very elevating. Fasting has been proven to be very healthy, as it helps the body get rid of toxins, reduces cholesterol, and improves brain cell production.

The first meal, Iftar, is taken after the sun has set. The time for Iftar changes daily and is announced by the call for prayer and a cannon being shot. These events signal it is time to break the fast. This meal typically begins with some milk or water and dates and then expands into larger main dishes that have been prepared during the day.

In the hour before dawn, people will have the Suhoor meal. This is a light meal taken before dawn whereby we begin our cycle of fasting again.

Ramadan ends with a holiday called Eid el Fitr. If we translate this literally, it is “festival of breaking the fast.” This holiday celebrates the end of the 29 or 30 days of sunrise-to-sunset fasting during the month of Ramadan.  This holiday is one of the two most important holidays in the Islamic calendar and is celebrated over three days. During Eid el Fitr people decorate their homes with all kinds of decorations, and the children are typically given presents and lots of sweets. People dress up and enjoy their time with family and friends.

It is only few days before Ramadan, and I can already feel the spirit of Ramadan everywhere. Mosques are being decorated and prepared to receive Muslims who will perform the night prayers, people are starting to collect money to make sure all poor people will be able to have proper meals to eat, and women are starting to prepare for the feasts for the family reunion.

It is indeed a stunning time that both Muslims and non-Muslims enjoy.