Religion

Islam's holy month of fasting begins this week

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2011, 12:00am

Most Muslims will start a month of fasting this week, but the exact date rests on what the moon does tonight.

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, is expected to start tomorrow, but it may be tonight or Tuesday, as it depends on when the moon is sighted in order to signal the start of the month.

During Ramadan, Muslims must not eat, drink or have sex during daylight hours. Young children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant women and travellers do not have to fast.

At sunset, the fast is broken with the evening meal called the iftar. For the Atallah family, the fast is broken with dates and milk before prayers and then a meal of home-cooked Egyptian food.

The focus of Ramadan, however, is not on eating, a common misunderstanding, said Mohamed Atallah.

'Ramadan is the month of prayers, not the month of eating. It is when the Koran was revealed to the prophet,' he said.

'The atmosphere at the mosque on the first day of Ramadan is incredible because you have Muslims, rich and poor, old and young, all praying together.'

At the Kowloon mosque in Tsim Sha Tsui, about 2,000 Muslims are expected to attend evening prayers tomorrow or on Tuesday.

A few days ago, a delivery of 1.2 tonnes of dates arrived at the Saudi Arabian consulate ahead of Ramadan. Since 2003, the consulate has imported dates for free distribution at mosques, Muslim associations, and to other Muslim consulates and organisations at Ramadan.

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The number of halal restaurants in the city that are certified by the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong