- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2014

The month-long fast of Ramadan begins Saturday, and Muslims online and around the world are preparing for the important tradition.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations explained that the fast is intended to help Muslims “learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity.”

“For Muslims, the month of Ramadan serves as a season of spiritual renewal and gratitude for the bounties bestowed upon all human beings,” the council stated. “It is a month in which families become closer, communities strengthen their foundations and individuals reaffirm their spiritual roots.”

Fasting is one of the “five pillars of Islam,” along with daily prayers, charity, faith, and a pilgrimage to Mecca.

More than 1 billion Muslims are expected to take part in the fast, which begins Saturday evening and ends the evening of July 28.

On Twitter, user posts that included the words “Ramadan” or “Eid,” which refers to the breaking of the fast each evening, included an option for a crescent moon or “Eid” icon.

While Ramadan is anticipated annually, this year the timing coincided with the World Cup, making some wonder how Muslim players will balance fasting while also staying strong to compete against their elite opponents.

Ramadan requires observant Muslims to refrain from eating, drinking and other “sensual pleasures” from sunrise to sunset each day of the month.