Muslim students began celebrating Ramadan, a month of prayer, fasting and reflection, last Wednesday. “It is the fourth pillar of Islam required by the Creator,” said Abd’Allah Muhammad-Bey, president of the Muslim Student Association.It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. “We’re fasting from sun up to sun down,” Muhammad-Bey said. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family. It is a time of worship and contemplation and a time to strengthen family and community ties.”It’s a time of reflection and temperance,” said freshman Louisa Rezgui. “You’re putting yourself in another person’s position. There are people in other countries who don’t have any food,” Rezgui said. “That’s why you’re supposed to fast, to put yourself in their position.”The month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran “was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation.” Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. During the Fast of Ramadan, strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day, the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar, it is customary for Muslims to visit family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.According to Muslim belief, they may eat and drink at anytime during the night, until a white thread can be plainly distinguished from a black thread by the daylight. They must keep the fast until night.Several things can destroy the good that is acquired through the fast: the telling of a lie, slander, denouncing someone behind his back, a false oath, greed or covetousness. These are considered offensive at all times, but are most offensive during the Fast of Ramadan.”Fasting is prohibited for women who are pregnant or on their menstrual cycle, people on medication, children under 12, those who are insane, people who are traveling and the elderly,” Muhammad-Bey said. “The fast can also be made invalid by intentionally eating drinking or having sex during the month.”During Ramadan, it is common for Muslims to go to the mosque, Masjid, and spend several hours praying and studying the Quran. “We read 1/30 of the Quran each day so at the end of the month, we have read it entirely,” Muhammad-Bey said. In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh, or night, prayer. The length of this prayer is usually two to three times as long as the daily prayers. Some Muslims spend the entire night in prayer”We’re trying to attract students to the Mosque for the celebration of Ramadan instead of them fasting and praying just in their homes,” Muhammad-Bey said.A main focus during Ramadan is on charity. Muhammad-Bey said it is a time for a peaceful state of mind and for doing good things.”We give up free time to help others, not just with money, but with kind words,” he said. “If you can do this for 30 days, then you can do it all year long.”On the evening of the 27th day of the month, Muslims celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Power). It is believed by Muslims that on this night, Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran. And according to the Quran, this is when God determines the course of the world for the following year.When the fast ends, the first day of the month of Shawwal, it is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Id-al-Fitr, or the Feast of Fast Breaking. Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large meals. In some cities, fairs are held to celebrate the end of the Fast of Ramadan. “It’s a peaceful month when you become closer to your family,” said Rezgui.