Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time of fasting for the Islamic people. Each day during this month, Muslims all over the world abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, as well as participating in anything that is ill-natured or excessive; from dawn until the sun sets. Fasting is intended to educate the Muslim in spirituality, humility and patience. It is a time to cleanse the soul, focus attention on God, and put into practice selflessness. Ramadan is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God and to put forward more prayer than is customary.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of the Islam religion, and one of the main types of Islamic worship. Restraint from everyday enjoyment and curbing wicked intentions and cravings are considered as an act of compliance and obedience to God, as well as amends for sins, faults, and mistakes. Ramadan is also called Ramazan. During Ramadan, Muslims request forgiveness for sins in the past, pray for direction and assistance in abstaining from everyday troubles, and endeavor to cleanse themselves through self-control and great acts of faith.
The real purpose of fasting is not to make us hungry and thirsty, or to deprive us some of our comfort and conveniences but to be conscious of Allah. It is to do one's best to live by His commands and to avoid His prohibitions, fear of Allah, worship of Allah, sincerity in faith, and avoid the disobedience to Allah. Fasting is an invisible act. Only Allah and the person who is fasting know whether he or she is fasting or not. Fasting teaches how to control and discipline our desires. During fasting we learn how to say "no" to things that are otherwise permissible and good, but are forbidden during fasting. When one learns how to say "no" to that which is generally permissible, then one can easily control oneself to avoid that which is forbidden. Through fasting we taste—to some extent—the pain and suffering of those who are poor and destitute. Fasting teaches empathy and sympathy, and it takes away some of our selfishness and self-centeredness.
Fasting in Ramadan is compulsory on all physically and mentally healthy and mature Muslims. Those exempted from fasting are the sick, old, pregnant and menstruating women and travellers. Pregnant and menstruating women and travellers make up the missed days by fasting at a later time.
The day of fasting begins with an early morning meal before dawn and ends at sunset. The evening activities include the traditional breaking of the fast usually with dates and water, the sunset prayer followed by dinner (IFTAR). Muslims would then go to the mosque for congregational prayers in which at least one-thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited. The congregation would have listened to the recitation of the complete Qur'an by the end of the month.
Ramadan will conclude on June 29th/30th, 2014 depending on the sighting of the moon. The celebration marking the end of Ramadan is called Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the major festivals in Islam and will be celebrated July 29th/30th, 2014 Insha'Allah, depending on the sighting of the moon.