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Ramadan 2010 USA: From Miami to Mecca, how 1.6 billion Muslims celebrate

Ramadan 2010, USA-style, includes streaming footage of Friday prayer sermons as Muslims seek to counter rising anti-Islamic sentiment. Saudi Arabia unveils a new clock, while Morocco makes do with makeshift tents after 1,256 mosques were closed.

By Staff writer / August 11, 2010

Jim Otun of Fairfield, N.J., used his iPad to read the Koran last week at Zinnur Books in Paterson, N.J. Many Muslims across the country are using new technologies to help them practice Islam.

Rich Schultz/AP

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Ramadan 2010 USA started Wednesday as Muslims from Miami to Mecca began the month-long fast to mark what they believe was Allah's revelation of the Koran 14 centuries ago. This is the first time in nearly 30 years that Ramadan, whose timing depends on the lunar calendar, has corresponded with the hot summer months of the Gregorian calendar.

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In addition to the heat, Muslims – who now comprise roughly a quarter of humanity – face unique challenges and perks depending on whether they’re celebrating in America, Arab countries, or as far north as the Arctic Circle:

In Jerusalem, considered the third holiest city in Islam, West Bank Palestinians will be allowed to visit the Temple Mount compound without permits. But there’s a catch to visiting the area, which is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the iconic golden Dome of the Rock: Men must be over age 50 and women over the age of 45. For married individuals, the age limit drops to 45 and 30, respectively.

IN PICTURES: Ramadan

Many Muslims in Morocco will be forced to congregate in makeshift tents after the government announced this week that it is closing 1,256 mosques. The move came after the religious affairs ministry inspected nearly 20,000 mosques for safety standards in the wake of a minaret’s collapse that killed 41 people in February.

Iraq is bracing for an uptick in attacks, as US combat troops withdraw by Sept. 1 and temperatures of 120 degrees F. – coupled with a dire lack of electricity – agitate an already tense situation.

Indonesia ushered in the holy month by banning pornographic websites, prostitutes, and firecrackers – “things that can distract Muslims from faithfully observing Ramadan in peace,” deadpanned the Jakarta Globe. (In addition to abstaining from food and water during daylight hours, Muslims are also to refrain from sex.) Some 80 percent of porn sites had been blocked by the government, said Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring.

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