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07/24/2013: DEARBORN: Imam says Ramadan works to build obedience to God, 'a better life'

DEARBORN: Imam says Ramadan works to build obedience to God, 'a better life'

After a month of fasting from sunrise to sundown every day, there should be a noticeable difference in people, Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi says.

"There is a before and after," Elahi says of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is about half complete this week.

Elahi, leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom on Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn Heights, says Ramadan provides an annual opportunity for Muslims to become more obedient to God.

From sunrise to sunset, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking or engaging in sexual relations. Many attend nightly prayer services at area mosques and then break the fast with a large meal.

Many Muslims attend the meal, called Iftar, at a mosque. Others attend large buffets at area restaurants. Still others prefer to take their meals at home with their families, Elahi says.

Ramadan is a celebration of the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran is the Muslim holy book. Ramadan culminates in a festival called Eid Al-Fitr.

"Ramadan makes us more loving, more peaceful, more humble, " Elahi says. "We're building a better life for ourselves and our society."

Elahi encourages Muslims to think about what it means to go without food and beverages — even water.

"We don't want to engage in fasting as a ritual," he says. "All that's doing is making people hungry and thirsty. We fast to dominate over our desires."

Another benefit of fasting is that it allows Muslims to sympathize with those who don't have enough to eat, Elahi says, adding that he hopes it motivates them to increase their charitable acts.

Children, pregnant women and those who are ill or traveling are exempt from fasting.

The Islamic House of Wisdom is offering an interfaith prayer service at 8 p.m. today. Elahi says he expects members of many area churches to attend.

Anne Runkle is a freelance writer for Heritage Media.