Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Healthy adult Muslims fast in Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during Ramadan.
Muslims also believe that the Quran was revealed in Ramadan.
During the holy month, Muslims would wake up early to eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, and they break their fast with a meal referred to as iftar.
It is common for mosques to host large iftars, especially for the poor and needy. Nightly prayers called Tarawih are also held in mosques after iftar.
Different cultures have different traditions during Ramadan, whether it is a special food they must cook, or eating iftar with the extended family. Islamic tenets, such as generosity, inspired most of these traditions, such as sharing food and inviting guests over for iftar.
When is Ramadan?
Since Ramadan is part of a lunar calendar, its date annually changes on the Gregorian calendar. Muslims tend to wait for the new month's moon to appear before they announce the first day of Ramadan. However, they can still estimate the day beforehand. This year, Ramadan will begin on May 27 or 28.
|Other than fasting during Ramadan, Muslims also read the Quran, pray and give to charity, among other acts of worship [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]|
Lunar months last between 29 to 30 days depending on when the new moon is sighted. If the moon is not seen on the night of the 29th, then Ramadan lasts for the full 30 days. The Eid al-Fitr celebration marks the end of the month, when Muslims celebrate a successful month of fasting and worship.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. There is also a verse in the Quran that prescribes fasting for all Muslims who are mature and healthy enough to fast for the full day. So Muslims fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to God and a way to become more compassionate to those in need.
Fasting is also seen as a way to learn patience and break bad habits.
This year, Saturday will be the 29th day of Ramadan for Saudi Arabia and the 33 countries that started observing the fasting month on May 27.
These countries will be on the lookout for the Eid moon that evening. If it is sighted, the first day of Eid al-Fitr will be observed on Sunday, June 25.
Otherwise, Ramadan fasting will carry on for 30 days and Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated on Monday, June 26.