VOA Special English
Ramadan Begins Thursday in the US


    People are praying at the Islamic Society of Orange County, California. The mosque is preparing for the thousands of people expected to come on June 20, the first Saturday of Ramadan in the U.S. this year.

    The day is a large celebration at this mosque. Here people are raising a tent for the party.

    Ramadan lasts a lunar month. Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours and study the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

    Shayk Mustafa Umar is the director of education at another California mosque. He says Ramadan teaches self-discipline. It also helps Muslims remember to be thankful for all they have.

    “When you go without food and drink for an entire day, even for one day, you realize what you have given up, and you realize what you actually have that you had taken for granted.”

    The fast ends at sunset. In Orange County, many Muslims gather at the Islamic Society to share a meal and pray.

    Duaa Alwan is president of the Islamic Society. She says members of other faiths join the celebration, too. The people, she says, are as different as the food.

    “You have Pakistani food, you have Indian food, you have Middle Eastern, you have Italian food, you have Mexican food, and it really reflects the diversity that our community shares.”

    After they eat, they pray. Mosque member Nawaz Ahmed says Ramadan is a time to think about how you can live a better life. It is, he says, like starting a new year.

    Shayk Mustafa Umar says that Ramadan is also a time to strengthen friendships and other relations with the community. He says Muslims around the world celebrate in similar ways.

    “So it is kind of a mixture of worshiping God and also having fun and having a good time, and realizing and appreciating the blessings that you have in this life.”

    Members of the mosque say they feel the excitement in the air, just like they do every year at the beginning of Ramadan.

    I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

    Mike O’Sullivan reported on this story from Los Angeles. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for Learning English. Anne Ball was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    lunar adj. of or relating to the moon

    fast v. eat no food for a period of time

    diversity n. having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization

    excitement – n. feeling of eager enthusiasm and interest