Ramadan

The month of Ramadan begins with the new moon, marking the start of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is considered as the holiest season in the Islamic year and commemorates the time when the Holy Qu'ran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. People of the Islamic faith are encouraged to read the entire Qu'ran during Ramadan.

For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of prayer, fasting, almsgiving and self-improvement in which they abstain from food, drink and certain other activities during daylight hours. Children, the sick and elderly are exempt from the physical fasting requirement. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the fundamental religious duties of Islam.

Muslims are called during the month of Ramadan to re-examine their lives in the light of Islamic teachings. Muslims must seek peace with anyone who has harmed them; strengthen ties with family and friends; and eliminate unhealthy or injurious physical habits.

The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain," not only from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts and words. For the duration of Ramadan, Muslims believe every part of the body must be restrained:

Tongues must be restrained from backbiting and gossip.
Eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things.
Hands must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it.
Ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words.
Feet must refrain from going to sinful places.

In essence, fasting is not just physical, but rather a total commitment of the body and soul to the spirit of the fast.