Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar. Muslims fast from dusk to dawn during the entire month, which ends when the new moon is sighted, giving way to Eid ul-fitr celebrations.
The act of fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.
During the month, Muslims have a pre-dawn meal called suhoor and they abstain from food and drink all day. The fast is broken immediately after sunset (usually with dates) during a meal called iftar.
Muslims fast during Ramadan to get closer to God through prayer and contemplation.
Many acts of worship apart from fasting are done during this month. Of them, the most important one is the ‘Taraweeh’ prayer observed in the evening. It’s usually a community event, when mosques all over the world conduct additional prayers (apart from the five mandatory ones) throughout the night.
Another act of worship that gains precedence during this month is charity. Like fasting, charity is another pillar of Islam and the Prophet urged Muslims to donate as much as one can to the poor during Ramadan.
While fasting during Ramadan is mandatory for all Muslims, the Quran makes a few exceptions. Pregnant women, the elderly, menstruating women and those whose medical condition prevents them from fasting (for instance those who suffer from diabetes) are exempted from fasting. However, they are obligated to make up for their missed fasts, later when they are able to do so or they have the option to feed the poor.
The month of Ramadan usually has 29 or 30 days. The number of days, again depend on the lunar calendar and the month ends when the new moon is sighted.