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Understanding Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Muslims worldwide will begin Ramadan at sundown with fasting, praying, reflecting, and gathering with the community.

Islam is the third-largest religion in the country. About 3.45 million Muslims live in the U.S. as of 2017, and about 1.1% of the total U.S. population. However, according to the Pew Research Center, Muslim Hoosiers comprise less than 1% of the population.

Ramadan is the ninth month of Islam. Followers fast between dawn and sunset, praying for peace and guidance and giving back to the community through charity or community service.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, during which they abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, having evil thoughts and actions, and having marital relations from dawn until sunset.

Michael Mikal Saahir attends the Nur-Allah Islamic Center on the far east side. He is a retired firefighter and converted to Islam over 40 years ago. He says the holy month brings him clarity.

“Fasting is to learn self-restraint, how to control your passions, and become more conscious. That’s the purpose of Ramadan, to bring yourself under control or bring your appetite under control so we can focus more on what the guy has for all human beings to do,” Saahir said.

For non-Muslims who have Muslim friends, Saahir said you can support them by saying, “Ramadan Mubarak,” which means have a blessed Ramadan in Arabic.