Ramadan The Month of Fasting

“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’ān was revealed as guidance for mankind, and as clear signs that show the right way and distinguish between right and wrong. So those of you who witness the month must fast in it.” — Qur'an 2:185
Definition: Ramadan
Religious season in Islam, the ninth month of the Islamic year, marking the time during which the Qu'ran was revealed to the Prophet.

Ramadan is not an Islamic holiday, but the name of the ninth month of the Islamic year. It was during the month of Ramadan that "the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind" (Qur'an 2:185), so each year Muslims commemorate this event by fasting from sunrise to sunset, among other observances, for the entire month.

Date of Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is lunar and shorter than the solar calendar. Thus Ramadan falls 10-12 days earlier on the Gregorian calendar each year. The beginning and end of Ramadan are announced when one trustworthy witness testifies before the authorities that the crescent moon has been sighted; a cloudy sky may, therefore, delay or prolong the fast. The end of the fast is celebrated with one of the two major Islamic festivals, 'Id al-Fitr.

Fasting During Ramadan

The primary observance of Ramadan is fasting. For the entire month of Ramadan, those who are able must abstain from food and drink (including water), evil thoughts and deeds, and sexual intercourse from dawn until dusk for the entire month.

Because the holiday cycles through the solar year, this fast can be much more challenging in some years than others. When Ramadan falls in the summer season, the days of fasting are longer and it is a greater hardship to do without water.

Non-Muslims in Islamic countries during Ramadan must be careful not to eat, drink, or smoke in the presence of Muslims during the daytime hours of fasting, as the law requires adherence to the fast in public.

Other Ramadan Rituals and Observances

Ramadan is also a time of increased devotion, prayer, and reading of the Qur'an. During the last 10 days, some pious Muslims will practice a spiritual retreat (called i'tikaf) in a mosque,[#1849] as recommended by the Qur'an (2:187).

Ramadan Customs

The traditional greeting during Ramadan is "Ramadan Mubarak" ("May God give you a blessed month") and the reply is "Ramadan Karim" ("May God give you a generous month").

Fasting Periods in Other Faiths

Ramadan has some similarities to Lent in Christianity and Yom Kippur in Judaism, which are periods of fasting, spiritual reflection, and atonement; Ramadan, however, is seen less as atonement and more as an obedient response to a command from Allah to practice self-restraint.[#1847]