BALI, Indonesia (AP) — Surrounded by colorful plastic cups, Sumaria and other Indonesian Muslim women pour sweet tea as they prepare for iftar, the traditional breaking of the dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. But the island of Bali, where Sumaria has lived since arriving with her family half a century ago, is predominantly Hindu. Growing up in the religious minority, she has held on to her Muslim faith.
Now retired from her work in microfinance that loaned money to poor farmers and entrepreneurs, she travels some distance from her home to the Grand Mosque in Bali’s provincial capital of Denpasar to pray.
“We are encouraged to pray in congregation,” Sumaria, 58, said.
She also volunteers her time at the mosque during Ramadan, which the devoted believe is the time to do good deeds.
“As a Muslim, every word and deed should reflect Islamic teaching,” said Sumaria. “Islam teaches us to be tolerant and kind to one another.”
Each day this week the Associated Press will focus on a Muslim devotee living in the minority in the Asia-Pacific region, illustrating what the fasting month of Ramadan means to the Muslim community in that country.
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