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Ramadan Calendars Indispensable for Dutch Muslims 

Mosques also print and distribute Ramadan calendars

By Wafa Bubnad, IOL Correspondent

THE HAGUE, October 15 (IslamOnline.net) - Muslims in The Netherlands depend on Ramadan calendars to start and end the dawn-to-dusk fasting during the holy month, but the leaflets also serve other purposes.

Community members turn to the calendar given the absence of other methods used in Muslim countries to alert people to the beginning and end of the fasting such as adhan (call to prayers), canon shots or musaharati (a man who wakes up people to have their predawn meal).

Although the European country boasts 300 mosques and prayer halls, the law bans calling to prayers through loudspeakers, leaving the one million Muslims personally responsible for keeping their fasting times in the country.

Muslims in other parts of the Islamic world depend on Fajr (dawn) and Maghrib (noon) adhans to begin and break their fasting.

Multi-purpose

Many use the calendars to overcome the restriction, but the leaflet have become more than a fasting awareness method.

"We print and distribute these calendars to stress the unity of Muslims living in the country and overcome their divisions as to the start of Ramadan," Youssef Douran, the head of the Federation of Muslim Organizations, told IslamOnline.net.

He said his federation takes into consideration the time differences regarding the start and end of the holy month.

Some Muslim immigrants insist on adopting the calendar of their countries of origin.

Since Islam uses a lunar calendar, Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon in each country.

Douran said they include in the calendars some verses from the Noble Qur'an and hadiths giving Muslims information about the virtues of fasting.

PR Campaign

"This simple means could help promote public relations of Muslim organizations, either among themselves or with other governmental and non-governmental organizations in The Netherlands," said the Muslim activist, who hails from Turkish origin.

He said the calendar could act the same as Christmas or other greeting cards marking national holidays.

Islamic charities use the calendars to communicate with community members and promote their programs during the fasting month, in which Muslims tend to give considerable donations to Islamic relief organizations.

Islamic Relief and Al-Quds Foundation are two of the most active organizations using the calendars to raise more donations for their humanitarian missions reaching out to the poor and needy Muslims in other parts of the world.

The calendars include information on the virtue of giving Zahah (alms) to Muslims in need in the occupied Palestinian territories and other poor Muslim areas.

The organizations, moreover, included information on their opening and closing times in the Ramadan calendars.

Commercial Purposes

Some mosques in the country get commercial benefits out of publishing and printing the Ramadan calendars and use the revenues for Islamic activities organized during the holy month.

Companies owned by Muslims in The Netherlands distribute ads with the calendars to promote their businesses.

The commercial calendars, known for their elegant outlook and fine printing, are affected by the identity of the company owner, unlike those printed by Islamic organizations.

If the owner is a Turk, the calendar comes accordant with the Turkish calendar, which most immigrant Turks abide by.

If he is of an Arab origin, he then publishes the calendar of Saudi Arabia.

Muslims in The Netherlands are broken down as follows; 40 percent Turks, 40 per cent Moroccans and the remainder from various origins.

Ramadan is the holiest month of Islam, as it is a time of spiritual reflection and discipline for the world's more than 1 billion Muslims.

During the month, Muslims abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk.

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