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Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, got underway for a group of Chinese Muslims last night after saying the Tarawih prayer.
Chinese Muslims began their preparations for Ramadan a week early this year, buying new clothes for the kids and food for the feasts, which take place every day after sunset this month. All this food is supposed to keep them energetic during their all-day-long fast during the summer.
For each big meal, the Chinese Muslims also invite their cousins and friends to join in, making Ramadan an important month for improving social relations.
The Muslims entered the mosque early so they could listen to the khutba from the imam before saying the Tarawih prayer, which is ONLY said at Ramadan. The lesson is meant to teach them a better way to live during this holy month. After the prayer on this night, the first night of Ramadan begins.
Wednesday after sunrise, the Muslims began their first day of fasting. But it's not only food: they should stop eating, drinking, smoking, and sex. Furthermore, they are supposed to support the zaka charity to feed those in need, learn the Quran, be kind to others, even their enemies.
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar, which could be in any season according to the solar calendar. This Ramadan is in summer, at a time when the daylight lasts 17 hours. Consequently, each day of fasting will be the longest it's been for 25 years in China.
Fasting is considered by Muslims to be helpful for their health and hygiene, a belief supported in many ways by modern medical science.
Wang Fei, Chinese Muslim, said, "By fasting, you can clean your body and change your bad way of life. And the most important thing is that you can improve yourself in a spiritual way. For example, when you feel hungry, you can keep yourself away from the food that is beside you. This will cultivate self-control. You will not try to get something that not belongs to you."
CCTV reporer Feng Yunxian said, Ramadan is not only about fasting, but also about feeling what the poor feel. It's about sharing happiness and practicing self-discipline. Ana, it's about knowing what it means to be human. Here in China, Muslims are just beginning their big celebration.