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What is the Ramadan?

2012-07-15

Mustafa Cenap Aydin is Muslim. He's also the director of Rome's Tevere Institute. More than just abstaining from food, he says, those 30 days are meant to be a spiritual exercise that promotes prayer, self control, sacrifice and empathy for the less fortunate. 

MUSTAFA CENAP AYDIN 
Director, Tevere Institute, (Rome)
"Usually the traditional 'OSM Giving' and other charities are multiplied during Ramadan, because the Muslim fellow is feeling deeply the necessities of those who are in need.”

The month of Ramadan commemorates when the first verses of the Quran were revealed back in 610 AD. Now the month is celebrated depending on the lunar calendar. This year, Ramadan will begin on July 20th. 

Aydin says, often the concept of fasting is misunderstood. During Ramadan, Muslims do eat and drink a light meal before dawn. It's then followed by a fast that runs until sunset. Afterward, comes the meal they usually share with family, friends and even strangers. 

MUSTAFA CENAP AYDIN 
Director, Tevere Institute, (Rome)
"Before the sun rises you have to make a very light breakfast to get prepared. Before sunrise you quit eating, drinking and smoking.”

Since Ramadan, is seen as a spiritual month, prayer is obviously part of it.  Among other things, it can include praying the Islamic rosary and calling out 100 different words used to refer to Allah, or God. 

It's a way to restrain from not only food, but also from bad habits, but above all else, Aydin says, it's a way to reinforce Muslims' connection with Islam and the role it plays in their daily lives. 

The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, usually issues a special message to Muslims, towards the end of Ramadan.


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