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Ramadan Begins for American Muslims

U.S. President George Bush has praised the contributions of Muslim Americans. In a message marking the beginning of the Holy month of Ramadan, the President said America has been blessed by the work of its people of all faiths and he sent his greetings to a Muslim community that in America is extremely diverse.

Perhaps nowhere in the world is the diversity among Muslims greater than in the US. Immigrants from many Muslim countries, and African-American, Latino and white converts celebrate Ramadan together. American Muslims -- variously estimated at anywhere from three to seven million -- feel their fellowship is especially strong inside places of worship.

Dr. Abdulla Khouje, President of the Islamic Center in Washington says, " People from all over the world gather in one place and we feel we are one people regardless of the distance and regardless of the geographic regions"

More than 2,000 mosques and Islamic centers across the United States provide Muslim Americans with special services during Ramadan.

Samir Salah is the President of Dar Al hijra. "One of the essential services in the month of Ramadan is to get people together especially at Iftar [breaking the fast], which is financed by the ongoing charity.”

During the month of Ramadan, American Muslims attend nightly prayers, celebrate inner reflection, practice self-control through fasting and other abstinence, and profess their devotion to God. In recent years they have added one more duty.

Robert Marro is a former American diplomat who converted to Islam. “Go out and talk to your neighbors, teach them about Islam, find out what they think of Islam and help eliminate and overcome the stereotypes," he says.

Mosques and Islamic centers open their doors to all Americans of all religions during the month of Ramadan.

Dr. Shaker El Sayed is the Imam of Dar Al Hijra. “We host Iftar for non-Muslim neighbors, right here in the Mosque, and we reach out to non-Muslim organizations, churches, synagogues and other civic organizations to tell them what Ramadan is all about"

Ramadan is a renewed opportunity for Muslims to purify their souls, give to charities and remind the world of the true meaning of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance.