Muslims around the world begin fasting for Ramadan today, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.
This will be the second time Michelle Sekusky, 27, of Akron, will fast for thirty days from sunrise to sunset after she converted to Islam a year ago during Ramadan.
"From sun up to sun down, we don't let anything touch our mouths. We don't drink any water, we don't eat anything and we completely abstain from food," Sekusky said.
During Ramadan, Muslims will use their time to strengthen their faith, give charity and read the holy book, the Quran.
Sekusky chose to convert to Islam after experiencing Ramadan as a non-muslim last year. She says the month of fasting brought her closer to God and to the religion of Islam.
This year, Muslims will fast for more than 15 hours a day. It can be a difficult task, but Sekusky says she focuses her attention on her faith and family.
"I focus more on other things, instead of thinking about how hungry I am," Sekusky said.
In Sekusky's case, she has chosen to give up music in order to concentrate on the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.
Sekusky began her conversion to Islam after coming across the Facebook page for the Akron Masjid on Old Main Street. Since then, she has maintained close relationships with several members at the mosque.
"My favorite thing about Ramadan is actually getting together with other Muslims. I love breaking my fast at the (Akron Masjid) where we all come come together for Iftar (the breaking of the fast)," Sekusky said.
Abdul Kareem Melaiye, president of the Akron Masjid, said he is proud of the support from the community and is currently in the process of expanding the mosque to serve the community during Ramadan.
Muslims and non-muslims are invited to a free dinner at the Akron Masjid every night during Ramadan to break the fast.
"What we hope to see, apart from an increase in presence, is more non-Muslims coming around to the community asking to know about Islam," Melaiye said.
Melaiye hopes the expansion of the mosque will be completed before the end of Ramadan.
On the Web: www.akronmasjid.com
(Picture: The main floor of the Akron Masjid during construction (above) and (below) a computer image of the final product once construction is complete.)