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Ramadan - Islam's holy month - to start today

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin today, depending on the sighting of the new moon. It is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other pleasures between sunrise and sunset. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint, and generosity, while obeying God's commandments. And it commemorates God's revelation of the Koran, Islam's holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad 1,400 years ago.

Fasting - along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca - is one of the "five pillars" of Islam.

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There are more than 1 billion Muslims around the world and about 6 million in America.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society