Ramadan monthlong observance begins at sundown Monday

July 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 8 (UPI) -- Muslims around the world began the monthlong observance of Ramadan Monday.

For one month, Muslims will refrain from eating, drinking and sex from dawn to sunset.

Those who break the fast during Ramadan may make it up one of two ways -- paying fidya or kaffara, both donations to feed the poor but for different amounts and lengths of time, the Gulf News said Sunday.

As of 2011, the Muslim population worldwide was 2.1 billion.

"Whatever is happening around the world, in foreign countries or here, Ramadan is a constant," Fouad Khatib, president Muslim Community Association of the Bay Area in Santa Clara, Calif, told the San Jose Mercury News. "For Muslims, this is the annual chance to renew yourself spiritually, to prove your humanity and bearing with respect to God."

Ramadan comes 11 days earlier each year because the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle.

Khatib said about 1,500 members -- representing whites, blacks and Hispanic-Americans from about 35 nations -- visit the Silicon Valley mosque each night during Ramadan.

"The valley's diversity, that's reflected in our mosque," Khatib said proudly.

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