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Q:During Ramadan, we all were told to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in front of Iraqis. We tried this for the first day, only to notice that Iraqi soldiers kept eating, drinking and smoking in front of us. What’s up with that?

A: According to the Quran, fasting, or sawm, is an integral part of the holy month of Ramadan. All adults must forgo food, drink and sex during daylight hours.

However, the Quran grants exemptions to certain people during Ramadan. Among them: children, pregnant or menstruating women, travelers, the ill and soldiers, ostensibly because a hungry army is not a strong army.

Still, many Iraqi soldiers choose to observe the fast, so it’s best to be cautious and considerate in their presence. For more on Ramadan, check out some Web sites such as

Got a question about goings-on in the Mideast? E-mail Stripes at:


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