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August 2011

1. DEAR ABE: I am currently living in the United States and will be in Atlanta, Georgia for Ramadan.  Do I follow the local Muslims fast, and start a day earlier than I would back at home in Syria?  –FAYEZ, ATLANTA

DEAR FAYEZ : Logically, you would fast according to where you are spending your month of Ramadan [1].  You are correct that fasting in Atlanta and much of the United States begins a day earlier than for the Muslims in the Middle East.  That’s because the month of Ramadan begins on different days for the two places [2].   The lunar start to the month of Ramadan in Atlanta begins at sunset on July 30th.  You would begin the first day of fasting on July 31st.  For the Middle Eastern Muslims, the calculations [3] show that the month of Ramadan begins at sunset on July 31st, and therefore they would begin fasting on August 1st.

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 2:183-187; [2] 10:5, 2:189; [3] Ramadan Calculator at Masjid


2. DEAR ABE: What should I say to my Muslim friends at the start of Ramadan?  Is there a certain phrase I should greet them with? –SUSAN, NEW YORK

DEAR SUSAN: Simply saying Happy Ramadan is a nice gesture to show your awareness of their observance of the holy month.  There really are no specific greetings or well wishes that should be used with a Muslim when they are fasting the month of Ramadan.  Any kind gesture on your part will be meaningful. Here is how God addresses Ramadan in the Quran verse 2:185; Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation [1].

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 2:183-187.


3. DEAR ABE: Is it true that when Muslims are praying, they should never allow themselves to be disturbed even in the event of an emergency? –HARRY, AUSTRALIA

DEAR HARRY: There is a distinction between prayer, commemoration, and Contact Prayers.  We can pray to God at any time for any blessing. We must pray to God alone [1].  The Quran dictates upon us, that we should commemorate God as often as possible [2].  Contact Prayers, or Salat, is dictated upon all believers five times a day - dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night. The Contact Prayers are mentioned by name in the Quran. How to perform Salat and other religious duties in Islam were taught to the prophet Abraham and brought down to us through the generations [3].  The Quran provides corrections to any corruptions in the practices.  During Contact Prayers, Muslims generally would not allow themselves to be disturbed. However, common sense dictates that a real emergency situation would require a different response.  They can allow themselves to be disturbed if the situation requires it.

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 1:5, 2:186, 39:17; [2]  24:36, 73:8, 76:25;  [3] 16:123, 22:78, 4:103, Contact Prayers at Islam

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writers, and should not be taken as the only acceptable approach. The reader is encouraged to research the topics further using the Quran.

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