How to Fast During Ramadan

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Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the "Hijri," or the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan marks the time of year in which the divine messages from Allah were first bestowed upon the Prophet Muhammad and later embodied in the Holy Book of Qur'an. An important part of Ramadan is the fast that Muslims undertake to purify mind and body and devote time to prayer.

  • Know that the fast of Ramadan begins during the new moon phase of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts until the next new moon.

  • Understand that fasting during Ramadan applies to all aspects of one's life, not just the physical. In addition to refraining from food and drink, Muslims must also avoid sexual relations with their spouses, smoking, becoming angry or showing ill will toward others by word or deed.

  • Know that the restrictions of the fast of Ramadan remain in place each day of the month from sunup until sundown.

  • Practice the elements of self-purification during the fast of Ramadan by exercising a devotion to prayer, meditation and reflection.

  • Acknowledge that the fast is permitted to be broken at each day's end during the onset of "Maghrib," the fourth prayer of the day. A light meal known as "iftar" is then shared with family and friends. The fast begins again at daybreak of the following day.

  • Spend evenings during the fast of Ramadan at the Masjid, or Mosque, devoting several hours to Taraweeh, or special prayers. For some Muslims, it is common to spend the entire evening in intense prayer in addition to reading passages from the Qur'an.

  • Celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr on the 27th day of the month of Ramadan. Also known as the "Night of Power," this date marks the anniversary of the night the Holy Qur'an was first revealed to Muhammad. Muslims also believe that Allah (God) ordains the future of mankind for the following year on this night.

  • Prepare to exchange gifts and partake of large feasts at the onset of the next month of Shawwal, which marks the end of the fast of Ramadan in a three-day celebration known as Id-al-Fitr, or "The Feast of Fast Breaking."

Tips & Warnings

  • Be aware that religious and spiritual advancement gained during the fast of Ramadan is believed to be forfeited by arguing, telling a lie, conducting an act of greed, violence or gossiping about another.

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