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Ramzan Begins, Muslims World Over go on Fast: Some Features, Tenets and Tradition

Today, Muslims all over the world begin their one-month long fast as part of Ramzan, the holy month in the Islamic calendar. Besides fasting from dawn to dusk, Muslims’ religious fervour will be high during the month with regular prayers and reading the holy book Quran.

The fast is part of the preachings to revive faith in God and increase self-restraint, charity-mindedness and detach from worldly pleasures and remain focused on God with prayers. Ramzan fast is one of the five pillars of Islam, others being faith, daily prayer, charity, and hajj.

Besides abstaining from food, Muslims do not even swallow saliva during the month, leave alone water or smoking cigarette. They keep away from sex during the day and do not indulge in any negative activity involving eyes, ears, mouth. No cursing during the month of Ramzan, say clerics.

iftaarBesides five daily prayers, reciting Quran, Muslims resume eating after sunset with a sip of water and three dates as did the Prophet Muhammad did some 1,400 years ago.

It is also a time for “iftar” parties shared with family and friends and Mumbai’s Bollywood fraternity is known for these parties where Khans embrace. Both Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan did embrace leaving aside their rivalry consequtively for the last two years.

Otherwise, Iftaar parties consist of juices made from apricots and in India and Pakistan, yogurt—based drinks are taken during these parties. Open tents and tables for the public to eat free iftar meals every night of Ramzan is a common sight in India. However, children, elederly people, sick and menstruating women or travellers and athletes are exempted from keeping the fast.

However, there is concern that Ramzan is turning into a commercialized month in many Muslim countries like Pakistan and Egypt. In Pakistan, live game shows and gifts are given on TVs to promote sponsors while in Egypt, one-month long soap operas starring Egypt’s top actors rake in millions of dollars for TV channels in advertising.

The month-long fast during the Ramzan comes to an end with the festival called Eid al—Fitr, which is celebrated by Muslims wearing new clothes, gifts and cash exchanges.

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