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Central Georgians of Islamic faith observe start of Ramadan

Imam Abassi says that Ramadan and fasting are a way to remember that there are those that are less fortunate and to humble oneself.

MACON, Ga. — The time for 1.8 billion Muslims around the world to fast, give back, and pray has come. 

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar and it starts Saturday and lasts for the next 29 to 30 days.  

We visited a local mosque to get a taste of what it's like and how Islam is welcome for anyone to try. 

The Islamic Center of Macon has just started their 2 p.m. sermon. Chris Barberich just converted to Islam a month ago and this is his first Ramadan. 

"I feel the most welcome I've been in a long time, in any religion. I never officially claimed any religion, but now that I have one, I feel at home where I should be,” he says. 

Barberich felt a calling to Islam when he started reading the Quran and now he knows what Ramadan means to him.

"It's a way to connect with the people who don't have as much as me to bring us all to a humble level during a whole month so we can all feel the pains of others that may not have the luxuries of where I currently live,” Barberich says. 

Imam Muhammad Abbasi leads the prayers at ICM and he breaks down how Ramadan works for us.

"First is that we fast in the month of Ramadan from dawn till dusk, and nowadays, it is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” he says. “When we say fasting, it means we don't eat, we don't drink anything during that time." 

Imam Abassi also says that they'll have a special prayer at night that lasts two hours, and then the whole community will break their fast and eat together after. 

But Ramadan is also a time to build character.

"We take a portion of our wealth and we try to help those who are orphaned, those who are in need,” he says. 

Abassi says that Ramadan and fasting is a way to remember that there are those that are less fortunate and to humble oneself. Aqsa Rehad is the office manager at ICM and says this is one of the most important months in the religion, and they're expecting a lot of people to show up.

"During Ramadan, we have 300 people every night and that's what we're preparing, and on the day of Eid, we'll be way more than that,” Rehad says. 

Anybody is welcome to come celebrate Ramadan no matter what race or religion you are, but there's some etiquette to coming to a mosque. First of all, women are recommended to cover their hair with a scarf. You must take off your shoes, and men and women can pray together, but men pray in the front of the room and women pray in the back.

RELATED: 'It’s like being born again': Central Georgians celebrate Ramadan in-person after COVID-19 restrictions lifted

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