through Thursday August 8, 2013.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri (Islamic) calendar celebrated by over one billion Muslims throughout the world. The month of Ramadan is considered to be the holiest of months and the is observed through prayers, fasting, self-accountability and charity. Religious observances continue througout the entire Islamic calendar month and end with Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fasts).
Who Fasts in Ramadan?
During Ramadan fasting becomes obligatory save for people who are sick, traveling, and women in certain conditions. However, these people must make it up as they are able to do so.
Sighting of The New Moon
When Ramadan begins is based upon a combination of actual sightings of the moon combined with astronomical calculations. In the United States, most communities follow the decision of the Islamic Society of North America, which accepts bonafide sightings of the new moon anywhere in the United States as the start of the new month.
The Daily Fasting Period (Dawn to Sunset)
Fasting begins dawn and ends at sunset with fasting occuring between the daylight hours. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before dawn and a post-fast meal (iftar) after sunset, with no food or water in-between.
The Last 10 Days (Devotion to God)
The last 10 days of Ramadan are a time of special spiritual power. During this period of time believers attempt to become closer to God through devotions and good deeds. The night on which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet--the Night of Power (Lailat ul-Qadr)--is generally believed to be the 27th night of the month. The Qur'an states that this night is better than a thousand months. The month of Ramadan then ends with Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fasts).