Lifestyle & Belief

TSA advisory tells passengers, staff what to expect during Ramadan (VIDEO)

Don’t fear Ramadan and the devout practice of Muslims, the TSA is telling Americans as the holy month begins.

The Transportation Security Administration released an advisory for travelers and TSA employees who might notice what seem like unusual behaviors.

They’re not, the notice says, they’re just prayers.

“TSA understands that this is a significant religious event for the Muslim community,” the TSA website says. “TSA has reminded its security workforce that traveling passengers may be observed at various areas in the airport — including security checkpoints or on aircraft — engaged in religious practices and meditations during Ramadan.”

The TSA says passengers observing Ramadan may be more likely to “engage in prayer at airports or on airplanes while traveling than at other times during the year.”

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That might even extend into unusual locations, the advisory says, since “Muslims go through ablution, i.e., a cleansing or washing of certain areas of the body that is usually done in private if possible, but may be observed in airport restrooms.”

“Passengers observing Ramadan may be seen reading, listening to or orally reciting the Holy Quran at airports and on airplanes,” the website says. “Passengers observing Ramadan may carry prayer beads and ‘whisper’ prayers constantly.”

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told US News that his group welcomed the advisory.

“We appreciate that the TSA took the initiative on this issue and perhaps helped prevent some misunderstandings with the traveling public and security personnel,” Hooper said.

Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, began Tuesday and ends Aug. 8.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and marks when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet Muhammad in 610 AD.

During that time, Muslims fast and avoid temptations between dawn and dusk to focus on prayer.

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