‘The most important month’

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Muslims around the world are in the middle of Ramadan, a holy month in where they search a closer connection to God.

Boeing engineer Tonny Soeharto, 57, said that Ramadan is when he is reminded to be a better person and obey Allah, or the one God. It’s like being born again without sin, he said.

“It’s the most important month for us,” he said. “It’s the month where God’s blessings are endless, and repentance is open wide.”

Ramadan began this year with the new moon July 21. It lasts until a new moon is visible over the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. That should be about Aug. 18.

Ramadan celebrates when the Koran, the Muslim sacred book, was brought to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. The Torah and the Bible also were brought during Ramadan, according to the Islamic faith.

During Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having marital relations during daylight hours. Muslims here have to wake up around 3 a.m. to eat the suhur, or morning breakfast.

At the Masjid Umar Al-Farooq in Mountlake Terrace, people congregated for evening prayers. First, they shared a light meal comprised of traditional food and a glass of milk. About 30 men sat on the floor, side by side, and talked.

During Ramadan nights, Muslims will meet for the taraweeh, special prayers in which an iman recites part of the Koran by memory. At the end of the month, the entire Koran will have been be recited.

Ramadan also is a time for prayer.

“We should pray for every human being, even if they are not Muslim,” Imam Ahmed Mujeeb said.

It is also a time for Muslims to think about poor people who are suffering from hunger around the world, said Jeremy Mseitif, president of the Islamic Center of Bothell. The center offers a space where Muslims can gather and learn about the Koran.

Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast similar to Thanksgiving where Muslims thank God and celebrate life.

For Joehan Saputra, 38, who lives near Everett, the biggest challenge is the long days after waking up so early in the morning.

He feels sleepy, but he said it’s worth it because Ramadan is a time for introspection.

“It renews your relationship with Allah,” Saputra said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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