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Press release from Business Wire

Majority of Muslims Practice Ramadan Traditions Even More When Living Overseas Than at Home, Western Union Study Finds

<p> <i><b>Family and friends motivate increased fasting, praying, sharing and giving during Holy Month</b></i> </p>

Monday, August 06, 2012

Majority of Muslims Practice Ramadan Traditions Even More When Living Overseas Than at Home, Western Union Study Finds08:00 EDT Monday, August 06, 2012 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (Business Wire) -- The majority of Muslims living and working overseas practice cultural and religious traditions during the Holy Month of Ramadan even more devoutly than they did in their home countries, a newly released Western Union-sponsored study has found. Specifically, Muslims living and working overseas said that their actions during Ramadan had changed after arriving in their new host countries, with half of respondents (50%) saying they fasted more and two in five (41%) sharing and giving more. The Western Union study, “Traditions of Ramadan by global citizens of Muslim faith”, was conducted in July by The Nielsen Company and covered Muslims of 11 nationalities living in 12 countries in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, the United States and Western Europe. Overall, fasting (96%), sharing and giving (94%) are the most widely practiced of all traditions observed during Ramadan. Two out of five surveyed said that the love of family and friends, along with dedication to work, were the key factors motivating more fasting, praying, sharing and giving. “Living in another country often brings different cultural influences along with new work and personal pressures. Global citizens of Muslim faith are upholding Islamic traditions and are even more devout during the Holy Month of Ramadan,” said Laston Charriez, senior vice president of marketing, North America, Western Union. “Western Union has been moving money for better, for more than 135 years. We know people move away from their home countries for many reasons, but a common factor is creating a better life for their families and loved ones through work opportunities,” added Charriez. “It is difficult for people of any faith or nationality to be away from home during traditional cultural and religious events and holidays. It is not surprising to see that family, loved ones and friends, along with commitment to work, are even more influential when people live overseas.” Key highlights of the survey Different traditions are observed during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Despite being away from family and loved ones, 96 percent practiced fasting, 89 percent prayed, 78 percent engaged in iftar, or evening meals to break the day's fast, and 75 percent read the Qur'an. The tradition of zakat, or the act of giving to others in need, is practiced more during Ramadan, with nearly nine in 10 Muslims abroad (89%) saying they fulfilled zakat during the Holy Month. Breaking fast is popular with other people instead of alone, with family (75%) being the most favored companions, closely followed by friends (65%). Accessibility to facilities for religious purposes (62%) and the influence of family, loved ones and friends (52%) are the most important influencers in fasting more during Ramadan. A vast majority (94%) uphold sharing and giving traditions during Ramadan. The zakat obligation is most commonly fulfilled through sharing with people who are known to the giver locally or overseas (65%). Arab Muslims are more likely to share with people they know locally (42%) than overseas (29%), while the reverse is true for non-Arab Muslims (49% local; 56% overseas). Muslims from the Middle East and the United States are more likely to fulfill zakat through donations to charity (53% and 54% respectively). Overall, the most common gift during Ramadan was cash (92%), followed by clothes (40%), food (36%) and other products (21%). Outside the Middle East, clothing was more popular (53%). “Cash is very versatile and convenient to give, either locally or when helping people abroad, which explains its popularity,” concluded Charriez. “However, the important finding is that the vast majority of Muslims continue to help meet real needs, both in their home and adoptive communities, by fulfilling their duty of zakat.” The findings of the study were based on a survey of close to 550 Muslims emigrants originally from the Middle Eastern and North African countries of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia and the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They resided in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East; Malaysia and Singapore in Asia; the United Kingdom, Germany and France in Europe; and the United States. About Western Union The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of June 30, 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 510,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and 425 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com. Western UnionL?Teisha Ryan, +1 720-332-3824lteisha.ryan@WesternUnion.com