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Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA will open all its mosques to the public for the weekly Friday Prayer services (May 17, 24 and 31) and special Iftar (dinner) Open Mosque events every Saturday (May 18, 25 and June 1) to raise awareness of Ramadan.

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, is almost 10 days in and will continue till Tuesday night, June 4.

Through this month, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during the daytime and focus on self-reform of habits and character. In a new “Open Mosque” project, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA will open all its mosques to the public for the weekly Friday prayer services (May 17, 24 and 31) and special Iftar (dinner) Open Mosque events every Saturday (May 18, 25 and June 1) to raise awareness about this month.

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Fairfax County Times reached out to Imam Faran Rabbani from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community with some questions about Ramadan:

What is Ramadan about?

RABBANI: Ramadan is one of the holiest months in the Islamic Calendar. Adult, able bodied, sound of mind and non-traveling Muslims are taught to fast in this entire month while also engaging in other activities of worship and charity to uplift one’s spirituality while at the same time feeling the pain and suffering of the less fortunate section of the society. This month is purely about self-refinement.

How do Muslims feel about fasting all day?

RABBANI: Muslims who fast do this for the sake of God, as it is one of His commandments. Although we experience thirst and hunger like every other human being who suffers hunger and thirst due to lack of food and water, we do this by our own choice and feel happy about the fact that we listened and obeyed God. Once God told the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of God be Upon Him) that ‘every action that a human being performs is for his or her own sake, but fasting is one deed that s/he performs for my sake and I myself will be the reward for it.’ Fasting also serves as a detox for our bodies and also for our souls, as a result ultimately refining us.

Do Muslims starve themselves during Ramadan?

RABBANI: Muslims take a predawn meal at the beginning of the fast and then break their fast with another meal at sunset. Between dawn and sunset they refrain from eating, drinking and having any lawful spousal relations. This is done to teach self-restrain and also in order to feel the pain of our less fortunate brothers and sisters in humanity who suffer every single day because they cannot put food on the table or [don’t] have access to clean drinkable water.

Why do the dates of Ramadan change every year?

RABBANI: Ramadan is a month of the Islamic Calendar. The Islamic Calendar runs on the lunar calendar which is 10 days shorter (355 days) than the solar calendar, which has 365 days. Due to this reason, the Ramadan comes 10 days earlier every year. The wisdom behind this is that in this way, Ramadan travels through every season over a person’s lifetime. Sometimes the fasts will be long and at other times they will be relatively short, which creates a natural ease for the people who are fasting.

Are there differences between how Ahmadi Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims observe Ramadan?

RABBANI: For the most part there is no difference, with the exception that Shia Muslims break their fast not with the sunset, but they wait for nightfall (adding an additional 20 to 30 minutes depending on the time of the year and location) while the rest of the Muslim world break their fast at sunset, which marks the beginning of nightfall.   

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The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic organization to believe that the long-awaited Messiah has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India. Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad.

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