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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Food is about to be eaten as the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake holds its annual Ramadan Iftar breaking the fast in West Valley City on Saturday, July 5, 2014.

WEST VALLEY CITY — Hundreds gathered Saturday night as the sun set to break their fast during Ramadan, eat together and come closer to God as a community.

"The main point of Ramadan is for people to be God-conscious," Khadija Guet said. "You always have to be God-conscious, even after Ramadan. In every other action, not just in eating and in drinking."

Ramadan, which began June 28, is a month in which Muslim's refrain from eating from sunrise to sunset.

Muhammed S. Mehtar, the imam or Islamic religious leader, said the month is to create spiritual cleanliness, sensitivity to the poor and greater spirituality.

"How do I in this one month continue to refrain from, for example, gossiping, slandering, lying, cheating, etc.? These are things we should stay away from all the time," Mehtar said. "However, this is a month where a higher or more concerted effort is taking place to refrain from these type of things."

During Ramadan, there will be one or two community events like the one held Saturday at the mosque at 1019 W. Parkway Ave.

Masood Ul-Hasan, who serves on the board for the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, said both those of Muslim and non-Muslim faiths are invited to break the fast with bread, rice, fruit and pizza. After the fast is broken, everyone gathered in the Khadeeja Mosquefor the evening prayer and then ate dinner.

Ul-Hasan said it is an opportunity to exchange ideas, get to know each other, and share in the importance of Ramadan.

Eman Mallah said she loves seeing more than 500 people gather together for the same purpose.

"Being together is just, it's indescribable," Mallah said. "The whole community is like one. It's surreal."

She said the closeness she feels to God during Ramadan is a closeness that for her is beyond words.

"(It's) not just because of not eating and drinking," Mallah said. "Even just praying, I feel so much closer. It's amazing."

Mehtar said the more others understand Muslims the better they can relate and work with them. He said the same goes for Muslims understanding those of other faiths.

Mehtar called Saturday's event a sharing process.

"Creating a bridge between different religions, different people, etc., I think it's a very important thing," he said, "especially in these days of conflict and turbulence. I think it's very important."

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com