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Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, began earlier this month with the sighting of the new moon. Throughout this ninth month on the Islamic calendar, devout Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sex from dawn until sunset. The fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is seen as a time for spiritual reflection, prayers, and charity. After sunset, Muslims traditionally break the fast by eating three dates, performing the Maghrib prayer, and sitting down to Iftar, the main evening meal, where communities and families gather together. Collected below are images of Muslims around the world observing Ramadan this year. [42 photos]

Palestinian women stand in front of a window decoration of Islam's crescent moon and star on the eve of Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan in the West Bank city of Jenin, on July 31, 2011. (Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images)

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Muslims around the globe have begun their holiest month of the year by giving up food, drink, smoking and other physical needs from dawn till dusk each day. In many communities, large dinner gatherings are held each evening to break the fast. The month also marks a time for Muslims to reexamine their lives through the prism of Islamic teachings. -- Lloyd Young (38 photos total)
A student reads the Koran before morning prayer on the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Solo, Indonesia Central Java province, August 2. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

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PINK PILGRIMS: Pilgrims stood in the Quema River as they went Thursday to the shrine of El Rocio in Seville, Spain. Every spring hundreds of thousands of devotees converge at the shrine to pay homage to the Virgin del Rocio during a festival that combines religious fervor and festive color. (Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters)

STRAIGHT UP: A police officer held a truncheon behind his back in front of protesters in Valencia, Spain, Thursday. A Spanish official says demonstrators protesting bleak economic prospects and corrupt politicians clashed with police in Valencia and eight police were hurt. (Gabriel Gallo/Associated Press)

BOMB BLAST: A man injured in a bomb blast in Matani, Pakistan, rested at a hospital in Peshawar Thursday. The blast hit a passenger vehicle, killing four people, including a woman and a child, the Peshawar police chief said. (Mohammad Sajjad/Associated Press)

VOLCANO FALLOUT: Two women rested as a man wiped the floor Thursday at Jorge Newbery Airport in Buenos Aires, where flights were cancelled or delayed due to an ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano in Chile. (Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press)

SEA ACCIDENT: A boy looked at a dead fin whale that washed up in Atlantic Beach, New York, Wednesday. Scientists performed a necropsy Thursday on the whale, and determined that it likely had been hit by a ship. (Kirk Condyles/Zuma Press)

FROM THE SKY: A U.S. Marine went to pick up food supplies that were dropped off from a plane using small parachutes outside Forward Operating Base Edi in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Thursday. The smoke is from burning parachutes the Marines destroy after they reach the ground. (Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press)

FLEEING FIRE: An emergency vehicle traveled along highway 60 in Springerville, Ariz., Thursday through smoke from the Wallow Fire. The growing forest fire has forced thousands from their homes and threatens transmission lines that supply electricity as far east as Texas. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

EARLY RELEASE: Prisoners were processed to leave the Muwaqar Rehabilitation and Correction Center Thursday in Muwaqar, Jordan, Thursday. The government announced earlier this week that nearly 8,000 prisoners will be freed under the general pardon law and 6,000 cases that are being seen by courts will be annulled. (Salah Malkawi/Getty Images)

YOUNG REFUGEES: Syrian children posed at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi Thursday. More than 2,400 people have crossed Turkey’s borders fleeing violence in northern Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. (Osman Orsal/Reuters)

MORE MURDERS: The bodies of five dead men were lined up by police and forensic workers after they were found on a highway on the outskirts of Morelia, Mexico, Wednesday. The bodies of 21 men, showing bullet wounds and signs of torture, were found in multiple locations with messages saying that the men had been killed for being thieves and rapists, according to local media. (Leovigildo Gonzalez/Reuters)

SALEH STABLE: Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh kissed his portrait as they celebrated news that Mr. Saleh’s health is stable after he was wounded in a rocket attack on his compound nearly a week ago and flown to Saudi Arabia for urgent medical treatment. (Mohammed Al-Sayaghi/Associated Press)

UNCLAIMED COFFINS: An Egyptian woman lay flowers on the flag-draped coffins of 19 unidentified victims, who were killed during the Egyptian uprising but whose remains were never claimed, during a mass funeral at Al-Sayida Nafisa mosque in Cairo Thursday. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

HOT HOT HEAT: An art installation of a melting fan was displayed in a subway station Thursday in Atlanta. While relief was in sight after one more day of sweltering temperatures in the Northeast, the South was forecast to stay hotter than usual at least through the end of the week. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

AFTER YOU: A series of images shows Larry, the Downing Street cat, being let in to 10 Downing Street in London Thursday. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

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Jordan’s press conference at the end is just awesome.  That dude was just the man on so many levels.


NBA Playoffs Throwback: Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls, 1997 Eastern Conference Finals; The ‘won’t shake Zo’s hand’ game. And, 7:25 if you want to see Pat Riley tell MJ “fuck you.”

*Game 1, 8PM Sunday on TNT

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