News / Middle East

US Muslims Begin Ramadan

Karlina Amkas
Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, begins for Muslims in the U.S. on Friday. How do Muslims in America set the first day of fasting and what are the roles of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Indonesian Muslim organizations here in this country?
The Fiqh Council of North America, which interprets Islamic law, decided that the first day of Ramadan in the U.S. would be Friday, as it is in most of the Arab world and parts of Asia. The Council, consisting of a set of American Muslim scholars, based its decision on a scientific calculation called Hisab. It enables them to determine the start of the fasting month years in advance.
The Hisab method is different from another method called Rukyah, which is based on sighting the moon, and is commonly used by Muslims in Indonesia to determine the beginning and end of Ramadan.
Key facts about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan
  • Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. 
  • The start of Ramadan is determined by the appearance of a new moon.
  • Muslims are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from daybreak to sunset during Ramadan.
  • For Muslims, Ramadan is intended to teach spirituality, patience and devotion to God. 
  • After sunset, Muslims celebrate with family visits and iftars, shared meals that break the fast.
  • Ramadan ends with the Eid al-Fitr festival, which includes feasts and an exchange of gifts.
ISNA adopted the Hisab method three years ago.
"So far it’s working very well because the majority of the Muslim countries have fasted according to this calculation now, [and] because that has helped the Muslim community," stated ISNA President Mohammad Magid.

Muslims from Indonesia living in the U.S., usually belong to one of two main associations -- the Indonesian Muslim Association in America (IMAAM) in the Washington, DC area, and the Indonesian Muslim Society in America and Canada (IMSA) and those groups have different opinions about the decision of the Fiqh council.

Oscar Zaky is the president of IMAAM. As an organization in America, he said, IMAAM needs to follow the Council's decision and not Indonesia's decision. Indonesia's government has decided that Ramadan starts on Saturday, July 21, 2012.

Zaky says that even though the majority of its members are Indonesians, IMAAM is part of the American Muslim community.

Arief Iswanto is president of IMSA. He explains why his organization does not follow the decision of the Fiqh Council.

Arief says the difference should not divide Muslims. He believes both decisions are right because each has its references.

The Islamic Center of Washington, DC, the largest mosque in the nation's capital, determined Thursday evening that Ramadan would start on Friday.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and are not allowed food or drink. It is very challenging for some because of the heat wave that most of the United States is facing right now - the worst heat wave in decades. But Muslims are allowed to eat and drink again the whole night, after the sun sets and before the sun rises.
Muslims will crowd mosques to break their fast and pray the Taraweeh, a special prayer performed only during Ramadan. Based on the method of computation, Ramadan will last for 30 days.
Ramadan ends with the Eid al-Fitr festival, which includes feasts and an exchange of gifts. On that day, Muslims believe they are reborn and cleaned from their sins.
Muslim organizations estimate that there are 7 million Muslims in the U.S.


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Comment Sorting
by: MODIBO from: Accra, Ghana
July 22, 2012 11:46 AM
Some of the comments are unacceptable (to me) but it is a free world. I think, however that, we must comment responsibily. It is a good report about an important occasion. I does not matter whether one believes in one faith or the other.

by: Eric from: Singapore
July 20, 2012 8:32 PM
Soon Islam will dominate U.S. muahahahaha...
In Response

by: Nazief Nirwanto from: Indonesia
July 22, 2012 4:48 AM
Why? Do you have a problem with that?

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 20, 2012 1:35 PM
Good it starts on a very high note - shooting at the Movie. What a wonderful way to usher in the ramadan fast! Another welcome party of the "good omen" is the unprecedented heatwave, another sign that America has arrived, at the CROSSROADS? Very soon there will be no more Americans but only infiltrators and immigrants, after all true Americans no longer believe in marriage of man and woman but only in same sex marriage, and the offspring is raised by adoption, from the arabs and north Africa. WELCOME TO AMERICA
In Response

by: Jay from: USA
July 21, 2012 6:01 PM
You are talking just like Bin Laden (and all those other right wing nuts) would like you to talk. This article is not even about Muslims coming to america. Did you know Jefferson owned a Quran? Do you think he got it while traveling abroad or perhaps from a Colonial Muslim ?
(You: Oh my God Forgive me!)
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 2:21 PM
USA itself is made up of immigrants, unless you are native.

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