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September 19, 2008

Observing Ramadan

Muslim faithful throughout the world are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims participate in fasting (sawm), one of the five pillars of their faith, this entire Lunar month (this year it extends from September 1st to the 30th). Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity is prohibited from dawn until sunset, when the fast is broken with the evening meal called Iftar. Local customs define varying traditions, including differing types of food used to break the daily fast. The fasting is meant to teach a person patience, humility and sacrifice, to set aside time to ask forgiveness, practice self-restraint, and pray for guidance in the future. (35 photos total)

Symbolizing the faith of Islam, the crescent moon is seen at sunset on top of the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

An officer of Brunei's Islamic authority looks through a telescope as he performs "rukyah", the sighting of the new moon for Ramadan, over the skies of Bukit Agok outside Bandar Seri Begawan August 31, 2008. Muslims scan the sky at dusk at the end of their lunar calendar's eighth month in search of the new moon to proclaim the beginning of Ramadan. (REUTERS/Ahim Rani) #

A Palestinian man reads from the Koran, during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas) #

Indonesian men attend Friday prayer at Istiqlal mosque, the biggest in Southeast Asia, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah) #

Jordanian Muslim girls queue in line outside a humanitarian center for waiting for meals to be donated at the time for the breaking of their fast, or Iftar, on the 13th day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Nader Daoud) #

A Palestinian woman is seen on her way to pray for the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

Palestinian women lead young girls through the Kalandia checkpoint, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, to cross to Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosques compound on September 19, 2008. Thousands of Muslim faithful have been crossing every week from the West bank to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa, Islam's third holiest shrine, since the start of the holy month of Ramadan three weeks ago. (DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images) #

Israeli border police hold back Palestinians on their way to pray for the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, at Kalandia checkpoint, between the West Bank town of Ramallah and Jerusalem, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

Palestinian women walk past men (on the other side of the fence) waiting to cross a checkpoint to get into Israel in order to pray for the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill) #

This picture taken September 5, 2008 shows a stall worker preparing roasted chicken wings to be sold at a Ramadan bazaar in downtown Kuala Lumpur for the breaking of their fast. In Muslim households across Asia, the inflation crisis is casting a shadow over the holy month of Ramadan, and making the nightly ritual of breaking the fast a more meagre affair. From Afghanistan to Malaysia, the high prices of food are forcing the poor to go without, and curtailing the lavish evening buffets which the well-off have flocked to in better economic times. (KAMARUL AKHIR/AFP/Getty Images) #

Kashmiri Muslims pray inside the Jamia Masjid, or Grand Mosque, on the first Friday of Ramadan in Srinagar, India, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

A Pakistani man prepares sweet drinks for people to break their fast at a mosque during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Lahore on September 3, 2008. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Palestinian boy holds a homemade sparkler firework after breaking his fast at the end of the second day of Ramadan in the West Bank city of Ramallah,Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

A seller of traditional Syrian sweets calls out for customers in the Meidan quarter of Damascus September 2, 2008. Sales of the sweets go up during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri) #

A Muslim woman reads a copy of the Koran at the Istiqlal mosque during the second day of ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, on September 2, 2008. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images) #

In a pre-Ramadan tradition, Bosnian Muslim girls wash their face with water from cave as local tradition claims that the water and prayers inside the cave will bring personal beauty and success for the year, near the Bosnian town of Kladanj, 50 kms north of Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. More than 30.000 people gathered to pray inside and outside the cave this year. (AP Photo/Amel Emric) #

A Bangladeshi vendor sells traditional sweet meats for breaking the Ramadan fast, at the Chalk bazaar in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman) #

An Egyptian family looks to buy a "Fanus Ramadan", a traditional lantern popular during Ramadan, at a shop in el-Sayeda Zaynab district of downtown Cairo, late August 28, 2008. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Palestinian Muslim girl prays in the men's mosque before the evening prayer called "tarawih", during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

A Pakistani man offers Friday prayers atop a mosque roof during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Peshawar, Pakistan on Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

A man has his eyes smeared with traditional Kohl eyeliner before Friday prayers during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad September 5, 2008. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) #

The Al-Zaim family of Duxbury, Massachusetts sits, gathered together for their dinner after 7pm on September 14th, 2008, to break their Ramadan Fast. (Justine Hunt/Globe Staff Photo) #

Workers sew prayer caps in a factory in old Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 18, 2008. Prayer caps have huge demand during the holy month of Ramadan. (REUTERS/Andrew Biraj) #

Kashmiri Muslims offer prayers inside the Jamia Masjid, or Grand Mosque, on the first Friday of Ramadan in Srinagar, India, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

A child prepares food for Iftar (evening meal) before the breaking of fast on the first day of Ramadan at Memon Mosque in Karachi, Pakistan on September 2, 2008. (REUTERS/Athar Hussain) #

Lebanese "Musaharati" Mohammed Fanas wakes up observant Muslims for their overnight "suhur" meal before the day's fast in Sidon's Old City in south Lebanon just before dawn on September 3, 2008. (MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Visually impaired Palestinian students read verses of the Koran, Islam's holiest book, written in Braille, during the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Al-Qabas Islamic school in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

Workers dry vermicelli, a specialty eaten during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, India on September 5, 2008. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) #

A Kashmiri man rests after performing prayers inside the shrine of Sufi saint, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, during Ramadan in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir on September 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli) #

Thai Muslim children pray at a mosque during Ramadan in Narathiwat province in Thailand on September 9, 2008. (MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan men offer prayers on a hill top overlooking Kabul, Afghanistan on September 8, 2008, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images) #

A worker prepares traditional sweets at a pastry shop in Tehran, Iran on the fifth day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan September 6, 2008. (REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl) #

Muslim women attend prayers on the eve of the first day of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan at a mosque in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia on August 31, 2008. (REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas) #

In this picture taken on September 13, 2008 a Pakistani labourer stacks bananas being kept in increased quantities for the holy month of Ramadan in the storeroom of a fruit market in Islamabad, Pakistan. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images) #

A boy sleeps in a mosque while waiting to break his fast on the first day of Ramadan in Makassar, Indonesia on September 1, 2008. (REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad) #

 
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