As Ramadan draws to close, local businessmen eye future

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is drawing to a close at the end of next week, bringing to an end a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset for Muslims worldwide.

The local Islamic community lacks the elaborate worshipping centers that grace some of the larger metropolitan areas, but Muslims, whether it is Ramadan or not, stop and pray at least five times a day.

Ashraf Abdelmuhsen and his brother Mohammad, who together run the LaPlace clothing shop Hipnotic, place a small handwritten sign on the door of the shop, lock the door and lay out two prayer rugs at the appointed times throughout the day.

“It teaches you discipline. It gets you ready for the year,” said Ashraf. “Patience is the key of Ramadan.”

During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and, according to Muslim belief, the month during which the Quran was revealed, eating, drinking and sexual intercourse are forbidden during daylight hours.

And although the Muslim faith generally eschews unnecessary celebrations — birthday parties are a rarity — the fast-breaking meal, known as the “iftar,” is often a festive affair. Furthermore, the end of Ramadan is celebrated with Eid ul Fitr, one of the largest festivals on the Islamic calendar.

But these celebrations are not a time to forget what one has been striving for throughout the month. On the contrary, the lessons of Ramadan are about self-control, self-discipline and gratefulness.

“If you can handle yourself for that month, you’ll be ready for the rest of the year,” said Ashraf, adding, “(Ramadan) teaches you to be a better person.”