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America's Muslims Celebrate Holy Month of Ramadan

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on August 22, Muslim Americans are observing it in many ways.

American Muslims of diverse national backgrounds are coming together to worship. They will break their dawn-to-dusk fast -for a whole month - in Islamic centers and in their homes across the country.

Imam Abdulla Khouj is president of the Islamic Center in Washington, DC.

"People from all over the world gather in one place and all do feel one people regardless of the distances and regardless of the geographical areas," he said.

Regardless of national origin, Ramadan is observed with rituals that bridge those differences.

Families shop for foods that have been prepared especially for Ramadan. They prepare Iftar meals that break the daily fast and they pray together.

Nadia Rachid immigrated to the US from Morocco. She misses the big Ramadan gatherings in her home country.

"There is a big difference. Here you do not have extended family, and so instead of having 10 people around the table, there is only the two of us," she said.

Her husband, Mohamed Ibrahim, says it's easy to observe Ramadan in America even though most people around him are not fasting.

"Because it is my duty to fast it does not matter what everybody else is doing," he explained.

With an estimated seven million American Muslims, Islamic centers and mosques are thriving.

Imam Hassan Qazwini directs the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. He says the center has a special program during Ramadan that focuses on the Holy Koran. Muslims believe God revealed it to the Prophet Muhammed in the 7th century AD.

"Every night, after the nightly prayers, the Islamic Center will hold a special session that consists of recitation of the Holy Koran, the interpretation of the Koran, as well as some other lectures," he said.

He says the center also takes advantage of Ramadan to teach non-Muslim Americans about the Islamic faith.

"I have invited Christian and Jewish leaders for the Iftar to share the peaceful and serene atmosphere of the month of Ramadan with us," he added.

During Ramadan, Muslim Americans hold open houses at mosques and Islamic centers. And they organize interfaith Iftars.

Amina Tambouch is an American Muslim from Senegal. She says Muslims here adapt their busy schedules to make room for Ramadan.

"Everyone will cook some food and brings it and we all will eat together, pray together and we talk about the Muslim religion, and we teach each other," she said. "And at work we go to pray together around lunchtime."

American Muslims have to adjust observing Ramadan to the beat of American life. However Ramadan gives American Muslims from different backgrounds a sense of unity as an integral part of the American society.