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5 things you should know about Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting

The first source of these rules is the Quran and the second is the hadith or reports of the prophet Muhammad's words or actions. Contrary to how popular culture portrays Muslim women's rights and privileges, Islam gives women many rights, including the right to inherit, to work outside the home, and to be educated. As in all cultures and communities, these rights are often violated.

This is the result of the intersection of Islam with existing cultural norms, which may reflect male-dominated societies. To prepare for the fast, Muslims wake for a pre-dawn meal called "suhoor.

How Much You Know About Islam & Muslims

In many cities in the Muslim world, volunteers wake the faithful for suhoor by marching through the streets chanting and beating drums. Muslims traditionally break their fast like the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him did some 1, years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset. After sunset prayers, a large feast known as "iftar" is shared with family and friends.

Iftar is a social event as much as it is a gastronomical adventure. Across the Arab world, apricot juice is an iftar staple. In South Asia and Turkey, yogurt-based drinks like "ayran" are popular.

Islam Facts

Children, the elderly and the ill are exempt, as well as women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating. Travelers are also exempt from fasting. Muslims living in countries with excessively long daylight hours are advised by religious scholars to adhere to the fasting times of the nearest Muslim-majority country. Once the start of the holy month is declared, Muslims share holiday greetings such as "Ramadan Mubarak," or "blessed Ramadan," via text messages, calls and emails to family and friends.

Egyptians follow the tradition of the "fanoos," a Ramadan lantern that is often the centerpiece at an iftar table or seen hanging in shop windows and from balconies. Increasingly common are Ramadan tents in five-star hotels that offer lavish and pricey meals throughout the evening.

While 43 percent of Jewish Americans have favorable views of Islam which is slightly higher than the national total of 37 percent , only 18 percent of Evangelicals feel the same. And 55 percent of Jewish Americans express favorable views of Muslims, in contrast to only 38 percent of Evangelicals. Seventh, majorities of those who know some Muslims—even if not well—have favorable of views of Muslims; this holds across the political spectrum.

For example, only 22 percent of Republicans who know no Muslims have favorable views, compared with 51 percent of Republicans who know some Muslims but not well, and 59 percent of those who know some Muslims well. But knowing some Muslims, even well, does not influence American views of Islam as much. While those who know Muslims have slightly improved views of Islam, still, majorities of Republicans and Independents retain an unfavorable view of the Muslim religion.

And even Americans who say they know some Muslims very well are divided down the middle in their attitudes toward the Muslim religion. In the end, does it really matter how Americans view Muslims? Enormously—and not just because of policy implications, but also because it inevitably affects the way Muslims see themselves.

Muslims - Wikipedia

Our current debate is of course colored by the breathtaking exaggerations of an unusually intense political season. In the process, we forget that religion and ethnicity are often only small parts—sometimes mere afterthoughts—of how people see themselves. Before last week, I had thought of myself as a lawyer, a feminist, a wife, a sister, a friend, a woman on the street.

People define themselves in part as a function of how others view them; we are what we have to defend. The worst thing that Americans can do is paint the wrong picture of Muslims—including their own fellow Americans.

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Check out our other foreign policy blog, Order from Chaos—a how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era.