Fasting, Prayers Begin as Asian Muslims Mark Ramadan

BenarNews staff

Religious officers in Putrajaya, Malaysia, use an optical measuring device to determine the appearance of new moon to mark the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, May 5, 2019. [S. Mahfuz/BenarNews]


Muslims wait for the announcement of a new moon and the start of Ramadan in Pattani province, southern Thailand, May 6, 2019. [Mariyam Ahmad/BenarNews]


A Muslim family visits graves of their relatives and offers prayers at Jakarta’s Karet Cemetery as part of an Indonesian tradition ahead of Ramadan, May 5, 2019. (Afriadi Hikmal/ BenarNews)


Staff members clean the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh in preparation for Ramadan prayers, May 6, 2019. [Megh Monir/BenarNews]


Muslim men and boys, including a man in a wheelchair, perform the Tarawih prayer on the first night of Ramadhan at the Sultan Zainal Abidin mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia, May 5, 2019. [S. Mahfuz/BenarNews]


Muslim women and girls perform the Tarawih prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, May 5, 2019. [Afriadi Hikmal/BenarNews]


A Bangladeshi boy prays at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka, May 6, 2019. [Megh Monir/BenarNews]


A boy sleeps while his mother and hundreds of others pray at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, May 5, 2019. [Nurdin Hasan/BenarNews]


Muslim men purchase dates and other fruit from street vendors in Dhaka to eat in breaking the fast at sundown each night of Ramadan, May 6, 2019. [Megh Monir/BenarNews]


Customers buy desserts at Malehheeleh market in Narathiwat province, southern Thailand, May 6, 2019. [Matahari Ismail/BenarNews]


Filipino Muslims perform the Tarawih prayer to begin Ramadan in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, Philippines, May 5, 2019. [Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews]


Filipino Muslims prepare to enter a mosque in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, Philippines, May 5, 2019. [Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews]

Hundreds of millions of Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Thailand marked the beginning of Ramadan with Tarawih prayers on Sunday night followed by daytime fasting that began Monday and will go until June 4, Islam’s Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Ramadan, tied to the lunar calendar, marks the ninth month in the Islamic year. The month commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Along with prayers and fasting, where they refrain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours, Muslims recite the Quran to draw closer to God and receive his promised rewards. At sunset each evening, worshipers break their fast with dates and other fruits before eating their meals.

In Malaysia, the announcement of Ramadan is made by the Keeper of the Ruler’s Seal after he receives a decree from the King who is the custodian of Islam in the country.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has the tradition of Nyekar where families visit the graves of loved ones ahead of Ramadan to offer prayers for God’s blessings.

“We have to keep these centuries-old traditions alive because no other countries have them. If not us, who else would,” housewife Marita Sari told BenarNews.

Ami Afriatni and Afriadi Hikmal in Jakarta, S. Mahfuz in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Mariyam Ahmad in Pattani, Thailand,  Megh Monir in Dhaka, Nurdin Hasan in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Matahari Ismail in Narathiwat, Thailand, and Jeoffrey Maitem in Maguindanao, Philippines, contributed to this report.


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