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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

Ramadan began Wednesday night at sunset and, from Thursday morning until sunset July 17, observant Muslims will be refraining from eating or drinking during daylight hours. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, commemorates the first revelation of the Koran to Mohammed.

Most Muslim restaurateurs on Long Island, however, will be cooking and serving while they fast. "It's not easy, but we do it," said Doruk Duygun, whose parents Funda and Tufan own Ephesus Turkish restaurant in Massapequa.

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Duygun noted that Muslim restaurateurs can't just sit down and have dinner as soon as the sun sets. "We'll have a glass of water or perhaps a piece of bread, but we won't really eat until later, when our customers go home." Duygun plans to wake up before sunrise Thursday  (5:24 a.m.) so that he has a chance to eat something before the day begins. Then it's a long, slow fast until sunset at 8:30 p.m.

Ramadan doesn't fall the same time every year. The Islamic calendar is lunar: Each month begins with the first sighting of the crescent moon, and the total number of days in the year is 354. This puts it out of sync with the Western calendar of 365 days. Every year, the Islamic calendar shifts 11 or 12 days in relation to the Western calendar with the result that holidays are not fixed to seasons. So next year's Ramadan will be 11 days earlier than this year's.

When Ramadan falls in the winter, fasting is easier because the days are shorter. When Ramadan falls in the summer, fasting is that much more difficult. This year, the longest day of the year is June 21, the third day of Ramadan.