Images of India: Muslims observe the Ramadan fast…

Families gather for Iftaar – breaking of the fast after sun set at Delhi’s Jama Masjid. India’s 140 million Muslims, who constitute the world’s third-largest Muslim population, observe Ramadan with devotion and fervour. Ramadan is a month of fasting, compassion and charity as Muslims try to move closer to Allah through sacrifice, surrender and empathy towards have-nots. The month also witnesses huge economic activity. Cities with a large Muslim population, come alive, especially in the evenings. The markets teem with people buying dates, fruits, sweets and savouries for ‘iftar’.  The occasion brings together the devout in mosques and at community ‘iftars’ as the holy month provides a unique opportunity to foster unity and brotherhood. Several organizations distribute free rations, clothes and money to poor families. Muslims who possess wealth in excess of the minimum exemption limit, pay ‘zakat’ or 2.5% annual tax to the poor and the needy. All Muslims, irrespective of their wealth and age give ‘fitra’ (2.5 kg wheat or equivalent amount) before Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.