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Ramadan 2012

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Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, will come to a close this weekend with the observation of a festival called Eid al-Fitr. Throughout this ninth month on the Islamic calendar, devout Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sex from dawn until sunset. The fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is seen as a time for spiritual reflection, prayers, and charity. After sunset, Muslims traditionally break the fast by eating three dates, performing the Maghrib prayer, and sitting down to Iftar, the main evening meal, where communities and families gather together. Gathered here are images of Muslims around the world observing Ramadan this year. [42 photos]

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A man raises his hands to pray near the sea at sunset after a day of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan in Benghazi, Libya, on July 24, 2012. (Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori)
A man raises his hands to pray near the sea at sunset after a day of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan in Benghazi, Libya, on July 24, 2012. (Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori)
Muslim worshipers pray overnight outside the Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosques compound in Jerusalem's Old City on the occasion of Lailat al-Qadr which falls on the 27th day of the fasting month of Ramadan, on August 14, 2012. Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, marks the night when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed through the archangel Gabriel. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man prepares popular traditional sweets during Ramadan in Boufarik, south of Algiers, on July 31, 2012. (Reuters/Louafi Larbi) #
Majd Osama, 13, shows his father, Osama Shawqi, 41, the crescent moon's course in the sky through an application on his iPad in order to try to locate the crescent of Ramadan in Amman, Jordan, on July 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon) #
A Jordanian man looks at decorations for Ramadan in Amman, Jordan, on July 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon) #
Shop vendors sell vegetables in a market in the old city of the West bank town of Hebron, during Ramadan, on August 4, 2012. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images) #
In Falls Church, Virginia, at the Dar al Hijra Mosque, a young boy helps move prayer rugs, preparing for the evening meal on August 10, 2012. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Iranian Shiite Muslim reads the Koran during prayers in Tehran in the early hours of August 10, 2012 in commemoration of the death of the seventh century Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb and in preparation for Laylat al-Qadr -- a high point during Ramadan when the Koran holy book was revealed to Prophet Mohammed. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman sits beside Ramadan lanterns (or Fanoos Ramadan) that are displayed for sale in Cairo, Egypt, on July 17, 2012. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany) #
Thousands of Egyptians pray during a rally in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak 18 months ago, in Cairo, to recite the Quran and support President Mohamed Morsi's recent decision to retire the defense minister and chief of staff. Photo taken on on August 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) #
Students attend a Koran lesson after breakfast at Sheikh Bashir mosque in the Omdurman locality, Sudan, during the holy month of Ramadan, on July 26, 2012. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) #
Hands of a Muslim boy offering Ramadan prayers at Nepali Jame Mashjid in Kathmandu, Nepal, on July 26, 2012. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar) #
A crowd of Indian Muslims offer prayer on the last Friday of Ramadan at Jama Maszid, in New Delhi, India, on August 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #
A Palestinian boy plays with fireworks as he celebrates the start of Ramadan in Gaza City, on July 20, 2012. (AP photo/Hatem Moussa) #
A Bahraini man searches the sky over the Persian Gulf for the crescent moon in the western village of Karzakan, Bahrain, on July 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali) #
In east London, Muslims attend Friday prayers on a rainy first day of Ramadan, in the courtyard of a housing estate next to a small BBC community center and mosque, on July 20, 2012. (Reuters/Chris Helgren) #
A worker cleans the crescent moon and star symbol on a dome of a mosque ahead of Eid al-Fitr in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines, on August 17, 2012. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and it is a custom to wear colorful traditional attire during this time of celebrations. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco) #
A Muslim man performs ablution from the water of a fountain before performing prayers inside Kashmir's ancient Jamia Masjid during the holy month of Ramadan, in Srinagar, on August 3, 2012. (Reuters/Fayaz Kabli) #
Pakistanis buy food from a stall to break their fast during Ramadan, in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil) #
In Panama City, Panama, a Muslim man performs Friday prayers in the Jama Masjid Mosque during Ramadan, on August 3, 2012. According to Saleh Bhattay, one of the officials in charge of the mosque, there are approximately 8,000 Muslims in Panama, mostly from India and Pakistan, making it the biggest Muslim community in Central America. (Reuters/Carlos Jasso) #
An Indian worker dries Seviiyan, thin vermicelli, which is used for the preparation of sheerkhorma, a traditional sweet dish prepared by the Muslim community during the month of Ramadan, at a food factory in Hyderabad, India, on July 24, 2012. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images) #
Loudspeakers and telecommunication antennas from various telecommunication companies cluster on the minaret of Jami Babus Salam mosque in Jakarta as Indonesia observes the fasting month of Ramadan, on August 15, 2012. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Muslim woman selects artificial flowers at a Ramadan bazaar in Klang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 16, 2012. During Ramadan, a daily bazaar offers various selections of clothing, food, prayer mats and other religious items to Muslims who traditionally shop for new outfits to welcome the end of the month Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) #
Veiled Iranian women recite verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book at the shrine of Saint Mohammad Helal Ibn Ali, in the city of Aran and Bidgol, some 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Tehran, Iran, on August 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) #
In her living room in Rovaniemi, Finland, Kaltouma Abakar, a refugee from Sudan's Darfur province, sits on the floor during the iftar meal with her family, on July 24, 2012. Muslims who live in this Arctic Circle city have only a few hours each day between sunset and sunrise to break their fast during Ramadan. Some opt to observe the sunrise and sunset times of a nearby Muslim country, but Abakar's family sticks to the local Rovaniemi schedule. In Rovaniemi, a town in northern Finland that straddles the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees north, the sun rises around 3:20 a.m. and sets about 11:20pm. That means Muslims who observe Ramadan could be required to go without food or drink for 20 hours. (AP Photo/David MacDougall) #
Pakistani Muslims buy food food for breaking fast during Iftar at a market in Islamabad, on July 26, 2012. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Muslim boy offers prayer during Ramadan at Nepali Jame Mashjid in Kathmandu, on July 26, 2012. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar) #
An Israeli border policewoman checks the documents of Palestinian women as they cross a checkpoint in Bethlehem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, on August 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi) #
Muslim women perform an evening prayer called "tarawih" marking the first eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) #
A man arranges plates with meals for Iftar, or breaking of the fast, donated by an Islamic seminary during the first day of Ramadan in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed) #
A girl displays traditional paintings on her hand in front of a local Koranic school on the second day of Ramadan in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, on July 21, 2012. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) #
Pilgrims pray in the Grand Mosque during the Muslim month of Ramadan in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on August 4, 2012. (Reuters/Hassan Ali) #
Muslims pray in a mosque in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, on August 3, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Thai Muslim women pray in a mosque in the southern province of Pattani, during Ramadan, on July 23, 2012. (Reuters/Surapan Boonthanom) #
An overcrowded passenger boat on the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on August 15, 2012. Millions of residents in Dhaka have started the exodus home from the capital city ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan. (Reuters/Andrew Biraj) #
A vendor prepares Jallab and Rose, traditional Ramadan drinks, in preparation for Muslims breaking their fast at sundown in Sidon's Old City in southern Lebanon, on July 19, 2012. (Reuters/Ali Hashisho) #
An Indonesian woman tries to recover a water-soaked Quran outside a damaged mosque following a flash flood in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province, on July 25, 2012. Residents were breaking their fast while observing Ramadan on July 24 when floodwaters burst from the river banks following heavy rains, sending people fleeing and damaging hundreds of houses. (Zulkifli/AFP/Getty Images) #
A worker displays cookies at a home-made cookies factory during Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, on August 1, 2012. (Reuters/Beawiharta) #
A young Afghan street vendor smiles as she waits for customers to sell "Bolani", a traditional Afghan food, in a busy market in Kabul, on July 21, 2012, during Ramadan. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Indian boy has his hand pushed away as he tries to take donated food from a volunteer before breaking the Ramadan fast at the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin in New Delhi, India, on August 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #
Indian Muslims offer prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan outside the Bandra railway station in Mumbai, on on August 17, 2012. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images) #
In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Ahmed Danaf, a Middle Tennessee State University graduate student from Tripoli, Libya, prays at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on the first day of Ramadan, July 20, 2012. A new mosque in Murfreesboro recently opened after a court battle with opposition groups. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee) #

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