Ramadan takes place during what is considered the holiest and most blessed month of the Islamic calendar—the time when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and calls for Muslims to abstain from food and drink for 30 days during daylight hours.
Each year, there are varying start and end times around the world depending on the lunar calendar. During Ramadan, fasting begins at dawn and continues through sunset. This year, Ramadan in the United States is estimated to begin on Tuesday, July 9, once the new moon is sighted, and continue for approximately 30 days until Wednesday, August 7.
In addition to fasting, Muslims observing Ramadan pray, take time for inward reflection and to focus on their faith as well as complete charitable acts. Mosques throughout the United States and around the world hold night prayers called Taraweeh in which the entire Quran is recited over the 30-day period.
Before the sun rises, most Muslims begin the day with prayer and the suhoor or early morning meal. Once the sun sets, fresh or dried dates are used to break the fast, as was the known tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. Breaking of the fast includes prayer and the evening Iftar—a meal eaten with family that often features nutritious and hydrating foods to help sustain and replenish the body from the fast.
At the conclusion of Ramadan, the three-day festival of Eid-al-Fitr begins and men, women and children attend mosque for special prayers. During the celebration, homes are decorated with lights and time is spent with family and friends to enjoy large meals and exchange gifts.