A reflection of faith

Each day of September, Huma Bhutta has known what it means to be hungry.

"Fasting is about holding back. It's about realizing there are people less fortunate than you," said Ms. Bhutta, a Pakistani native who worships at the Islamic Society of Augusta.

During Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.

The holiday, she said, "teaches me to be thankful for what I have."

Ms. Bhutta joined hundreds of Muslims at the mosque off Pleasant Home Road on Wednesday morning for Eid al-Fitr, or the festival of fast-breaking, which marks the end of Ramadan.

It's only human nature to forget our blessings, especially in times of financial and economic distress, said Imam Majed Al Sabke, the mosque's leader.

"The month of Ramadan is training -- training to be patient, training to be kind, training to be generous," he said after leading a prayer service in both Arabic and English before a large potluck outside the mosque.

Charity, or zakat in Arabic, is a tenet of the faith. Islam calls on members to give 2.5 percent of their savings annually. During Ramadan, many increase their giving, for it is said their rewards will be multiplied 70 times.

Despite economic woes, "donations are up high to the sky," said Imam Al Sabke, a native of Lebanon who is celebrating his second Ramadan in Augusta.

Ramadan is a chance to reflect on the way things are meant to be, said Ismail Kaddour.

"We come to realize that we can fix this crisis by not overspending or wasting," said Dr. Kaddour, who is a cancer researcher at the Medical College of Georgia and a native of Algeria.

"We should not sleep with plenty of food while our neighbor is hungry," Dr. Kaddour said. "I'm really concerned. I am a U.S. citizen. My faith tells me we can do better for each other than this."

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or kelly.jasper@augustachronicle.com.

RAMADAN

WHAT: The ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar

WHEN: Ramadan began Sept. 1 and ended with a feast Wednesday morning to break the month of fasting.

ORIGIN: Ramadan is the month in which, about 610 A.D., the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

PROHIBITED: Muslims must abstain from eating and drinking, sexual activity, smoking, using profane language and backbiting, or speaking ill of others from dawn to dusk each day during Ramadan.