For the majority of Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan, which is based on the lunar calendar, began Friday and continues until Aug. 18.
"The revelation of the Quran is what really makes Ramadan important," said Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, 22575 Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn Heights.
The Quran was first revealed during Ramadan, Elahi said, as God's final revelation to mankind. To better understand it, Muslims fast and undergo spiritual cleansing through prayer and reflection.
"There is a connection between fasting and the revelation of the Quran," Elahi said. "One provides the message and the other is practicing that message."
Through fasting, he said, practicing Muslims have a chance to purify themselves and practice self-control over desires and temptations, which helps them to instead rely on qualities like intellect and conscience.
"We can remove the darkness from our lives, the darkness of ignorance, darkness of injustice or darkness or arrogance," he said.
"This is a month in which believers are busy with worship, and the mosque plays a central role in the lives of thousands of these believers," according to the website of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in Michigan. "It is a time for reflection, education, community service and connecting with one another."
In observance of Ramadan, all adult Muslims are expected to abstain from food and drink from dawn until dusk. The elderly, sick, children and pregnant or nursing women are exempt from the obligation.
Smoking and sexual activity are also prohibited during the fast. Practicing this self-restraint for one month makes it easier to control one's desires and live a more spiritual life year-round, Elahi said.
"It is a big test for a person in that if someone can do this exercise in Ramadan, then he can apply this to the rest of the year," Elahi said. "That is the point, that a person can protect his soul from any threat, any evil."
After evening prayers, they break the fast. There are two moments of joy that accompany this time, according to Elahi. One is to eat for the first time all day, but the other is a sense of accomplishment in doing his or her spiritual duty.
"That is really a bigger, better moment of joy," Elahi said.