Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture. During Ramadan, Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures and pray to become closer to God. It is also a time for families to gather together and celebrate. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon. The sighting of the crescent moon determines the start of Ramadan.
The observance of Ramadan is a personal, individual experience and is a time for sacrifice as well as a period of reflection and spiritual growth. Ramadan is also a powerful symbol of unity, with Muslims all around the world fasting at the same time while bringing together family and friends.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is not only abstaining from food and drink, you must also refrain from smoking, taking oral medications and engaging in sexual activities, as well as gossip, fighting and lying. Some people are exempt, such as those who are ill or frail; women who are pregnant, lactating or menstruating; and travellers. Fasting during Ramadan is a time for Muslims to commit themselves more to God, helping the poor and needy and sharing with others.
A light meal 'suhoor' is eaten just before dawn in time for the morning prayer. Once the sun sets at the end of each day, people gather together to break their fast with 'iftar', meaning breakfast, which is eaten after mahgrib prayer.