LONDON - Widely celebrated for its tolerant atmosphere, London city is praised for hosting a special, multicultural Ramadan, offering hundreds of thousands of Muslim residents some of basic and spiritual manifestations of the holy month.
"The United Kingdom is one of the best nations in this respect, in addition to existence of a large number of Muslims and mosques," Abu Saleh, a Syrian who has been living in Britain for 25 years, told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Sunday, July 22.
Fortunately, ceremonies and Islamic religious rituals are held in this country without any restraint.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in Britain on Friday.In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and good deeds.
For centuries, special celebrations have colored the holy fasting month in Arab and Muslim countries.
For Muslim students and professional living in London, the British city offers them the spiritual atmosphere which they used to enjoy at home.
Murad Ayoub, spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain, said London mosques attract a large number of worshippers during the holy month.
Muslims also hold iftar meals for the needy and some limited-income people.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.
There are 1,550 mosques and prayer corners in Britain that host thousands of worshippers per day.
Muslim students in London say the city is distinguished with a "special Ramadan atmosphere," where the believers can perform their rituals, largely, freely and without restrictions.
Ahmad Al-Otaibi, a Saudi engineering student, said he spends two weeks of the holy month in the country without feeling lonely, due to mingling with many Muslims of other countries at worship places.
According to Al-Otaibi, there are some 300,000 Arab residents living in London, the second largest foreign community after the Chinese.
Usama, an English language student from Kuwait, says he favors fasting in the European country due to the cold weather, thus would not suffer from thirst.
He cites Edgeware Road as his favorite destination during Ramadan, where he would gather with friends and share iftar meals at restaurants along the renowned avenue, also known as the "Arabs' Street."
Giving the holy month a special flavor, Ramadan coincides this year with the London Olympics, which is scheduled to start from July 27 to August 12.
Muslim organizations in London have launched a new initiative to promote respect across lines of culture, religion, tradition, class and gender during the fasting month.
The Ramadan festival, which was launched on Wednesday, July 18, is part of 2012 Hours Against Hate for Unity, a join initiative of London-based community organizations to promote respect across lines of culture, religion, tradition, class and gender.London mosques would also host iftar for thousands of athletes and visitors during the London Olympics.