President John Mahama has called on Muslims in Ghana to use the Ramadan period of fasting and prayers to remember the country in their prayers.

In a statement Thursday, Mahama said the nation “also expects our Muslim brothers and sisters during this period of fasting to totally submit to Allah and to remember our beloved country in their prayers. Let us all, as Ghanaians, lend support to our Muslim colleagues to enable them fulfill the requirements of the month of Ramadan.”

“I urge them to use the period to purify their hearts and detoxify their bodies with the view to drawing closer to the Almighty Allah, per the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa’Sallam).”

Muslims in Ghana and around the world will today begin a special spiritual exercise that is focused on prayer, fasting, giving to charity and devotion.

Ramadan (also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which consists of 12 months and lasts for about 354 days.

The last third of Ramadan is a particularly holy period, as it commemorates when the Koran’s (Qu’ran) first verses were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Mohammad or Muhammed).

The word “Ramadan” is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of food and drink.

The month of Ramadan traditionally begins with a new moon sighting, marking the start of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims (except children, the sick and the elderly) abstain from food, drink, and certain other activities during daylight hours in Ramadan. Gossiping and fighting are also prohibited in this period.