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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush sent his ``best wishes for a blessed time'' on Tuesday to Muslims preparing to celebrate Ramadan, their faith's holy month of daytime fasting.

Calling Islam ``a peace-loving faith,'' Bush celebrated the diversity that the millions of American Muslims bring to the United States and praised Muslim nations that support the U.S. war against terror.

``Muslims observe this month by renewing their dedication to caring for those in need, doing good deeds, and strengthening family and community ties,'' Bush said in a statement. ``These actions reflect many of the values that Muslims share with people of other faiths across our nation and around the world, including courage, compassion and service.''

Ramadan is the holiest time of year for Muslims, marking God's revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed almost 1,400 years ago. Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex during daylight hours in acts of sacrifice and purification. Each day of fasting ends with family and friends gathering for a meal.

The holiday is marked on a lunar calendar and begins at the month's first sighting of the crescent moon, which should take place on Wednesday in the United States.

Last year, the holiday came two months after the Sept. 11 attacks and during the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan. This year, it falls as Bush is attempting to rally allies around the possibly of acting against Iraq for trying to develop caches of weapons of mass destruction.

``America remains committed to freedom, justice and opportunity for all people,'' Bush said. ``During this season of reverence and examination, we continue to work together for a future of peace, tolerance and understanding.''