President Bush has extended greetings to Muslims all over the world for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
In a statement from the White House, Mr. Bush called Islam a faith that teaches the importance of charity, mercy and peace.
The president included special greetings to Muslims in the United States. He called Islam the fastest growing religion in the country, with millions of believers from diverse backgrounds.
The president's message does not refer directly to U-S military operations in Afghanistan. Instead, Mr. Bush focused on American efforts to get humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, and he promised the United States will help re-build Afghanistan.
Ramadan begins after the crescent moon is sighted by clerics in the various Muslim countries and regions. Most of the Arab world (and some Muslim minority communities in Asia) began the fasting month today (Friday). The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, will begin Ramadan on Saturday as will Malaysia, Brunei, Pakistan, Iran, Oman and Morocco.
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, when Muslims believe their holy book -- the Koran -- was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad. It is a time for spiritual renewal, worship and contemplation for more than one billion Muslims around the world.
During daylight hours, the observant refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in sexual intercourse. At the end of the day, the fast is broken with prayer and a meal. It is then customary for Muslims to visit family and friends.