Area Muslims await the start of Ramadan, one of the
holiest times of their faith.
Based on the Islamic lunar calendar, the start of the monthlong fast depends on the sighting of the new moon, said Dr. Muhammad Sahli, a former president of the Islamic Center of Virginia here.
That means the fast should begin around Dec. 29 or 30, he said. Any member of the Islamic community who sights the new moon alerts the other members.
Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, marks the period in which Muslims believe Allah, or God, gave the prophet Mohammed the Koran, the holy book of Islam.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn to sunset. They also are required to read the Koran, pray daily and give to the poor.
The purpose of the fast is to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments.
With sunset each day, the fast is broken by having juice and maybe dates, Sahli said. The breaking of the fast is followed by prayer and dinner.
Each Saturday during Ramadan, the Islamic Center at 1241 Buford Road will have a community dinner. Dinner will begin immediately after the sunset prayer, which will be about 4:30 p.m. After dinner, a story about Ramadan or the Koran will be told.
"We've been doing this for several years and it's becoming a tradition in Richmond," Sahli said.
The end of the Ramadan fast is celebrated with communal prayers, which begin the three-day Eid ul-Fitr, or feast of fast breaking holiday. During this time, Muslims visit each other and seek to strengthen community bonds.
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