Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 30, 2007

Local Muslims shed light on observance, faith



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Muslims in the Black Belt, like the world over, are observing Ramadan, a Holy season that is a time when fasting is used to cleanse their minds and bodies of &8220;desires of the flesh.&8221;

State Rep. Yusef Salaam, D-Selma, is the Imam in Selma, who hopes to spread greater understanding for their faith along with Imam Michael Hameen.

A former Selma City Councilman who unsuccessfully sought the city’s highest office, Salaam may have been defeated in part, he said, due to the lack of understanding of his faith entangled with America’s war with a nation largely Islamic.

The Islamic calendar is based on the luminary system. Each year Ramadan takes place two weeks prior to the previous year. In a few years, Ramadan will take place during the summer, Salaam said.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an was sent down to the earth during this month. In addition, the prophet Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell would be closed.

In addition to fasting, Salaam said every Muslim is supposed to read 1/30th of the Qur’an each day. At the end of the Ramadan they will have read the entire Holy book.

The first day of the next month is spent in celebrations and is observed as the &8220;Festival of Breaking Fast.&8221;

Salaam said there approximately 50 practicing Muslims in the Black Belt, and most of them are in Selma. A lot of them are doctors, he said.