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Muslims in Southern California prepare for beginning of Ramadan

A child plays as men offer their nightly Ramadan prayers last year at Masjid Al-Fatiha.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Ramadan begins Sunday, as Muslims in Southern California join nearly 2 billion around the world in celebrating the beginning of the month-long Islamic holiday.

Muslims will be fasting from dawn to sunset in observance of Islam’s holy month, which ends June 4.

“We do it to show connection and reverence and sacrifice to God,” said Eugene Fields, communications manager for the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “The fast is performed to increase spirituality, discipline, self-restraint and generosity while obeying God’s commandments.”

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, which also include declaration of faith, prayer, charity and pilgrimage to Mecca, Fields said.

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During the holy month, representatives with CAIR-LA plan to visit every Mosque in Southern California — roughly 90 in all.

Those observing Ramadan typically attend iftar, the fast-breaking meal after sunset, which Fields described as a communal gathering.

“It’s a great time for Muslims to reconnect with their spirituality and their community. It’s a great time to remember how special the community is for each other and connect with Allah,” Fields said.

(Here’s a short list of restaurants offering iftar buffets and special dishes during Ramadan.)

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Ramadan is the ninth lunar month in the Muslim calendar, during which it is said that the Prophet Muhammad first received the Quran, the Islamic holy book.

“That’s one of the reasons it’s so holy — Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran,” he said.

The end of Ramadan will be marked by Eid al-Fitr, a celebration known as Feast of the Fast-Breaking.

ben.poston@latimes.com

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