With the U.S. population of Muslims at nearly two million, more of our friends, neighbors and co-workers are observing Ramadan. to a few mosques including the , the Anjuman-E-Ahle Bayt and the Zainabiya Imambargah Mosque on Howdershell Road (see map).
Here are some basics about Ramadan, which unfolds during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. As the Huffington Post explains, the dates shift slightly from year to year.
1. What is Ramadan?
The website TheEid.com states, "During the entire month Muslims abstain from food, water and sexual activities. According to Islam it is best way of devotion of Muslims towards God."
2. How do people observe it?
The fasting aspect of Ramadan may be the one Americans are most familiar with. Muslims observing Ramadan fast between dawn and dusk for thirty days.
According to the Huffington Post, removing material desires allows Muslims to focus on devotion and service to God. "Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations -- anger, cursing, greed, etc.," says the Huffington Post. Community service is also a hallmark of Ramadan.
3. Fasting? In this heat?
For Muslims in Hazelwood and other metro St. Louis communities, Ramadan falls during an especially hot spell this year. STLToday.com reports how the heat can make fasting an even greater challenge than usual.
4. What's the history?
The History Channel has a three-minute video that traces the roots of Ramadan. The observance marks the Prophet Muhammad's journey through the desert of Saudi Arabia. According to Islamic tradition, the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad then, revealing the Quran and instructing him how to keep the ninth month of the year holy.
5. Where can I find more local information?
Two websites provide information about Ramadan for residents in metro St. Louis:
- StlIslam.org posts important times of the day (including sunrise and sunset) on its homepage.
- The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis has similar information on its site.
- Both sites also have information about local mosques.
More on Islam, Muslims in St. Louis and Ramadan
- The Muslims in your neighborhood: After several generations in St. Louis, Muslims face familiar challenges of preserving their faith and culture St. Louis Beacon
- No Ramadan respite for Syrian protestors AlJazeera.net
- Times Topics: Ramadan NYTimes.com
- Live stream of Ramadan prayers from Mecca YouTube.com
- Five myths about Muslims in America Washington Post