The Holy Month Of Ramadan
The month of Ramadan this year (1433 Hijri, according to the Islamic Calendar) started on July 20. It is a call to Muslims around the world to start the month-long period of fasting and prayers.
Voice in a cave
"Ramadan" comes from the Arabic root word rmd which means "scorching heat" denoting shortness of rations and marks the ninth month of the lunar calendar year. During this month in 610 AD, Muslims believe that the Holy book of Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad, a caravan trader, while he was on a spiritual quest through the deserts of Saudi Arabia. The voice of Archangel Gabriel in a cave near Mecca proclaimed Muhammad as a Prophet and a messenger of God.
An all-day fast
Ramadan is a period of fasting, worshipping God and reading the holy Qur'an. In some countries like Indonesia, families visit cemetaries to pay respects to their deceased family members before the start of the month.
During the holy month, the faithful wake up before sunrise for a pre-dawn breakfast known as Suhoor. They do not eat or drink all day until sunset when they break their fast with a special meal called Iftar. In many cities, the marketplaces come alive in the evening as people step out after sunset to share a meal, eat out or shop.
Later that night, Muslims attend a special prayer at the mosque. Each night, they recite a section of the Qur'an and the entire holy book is covered during the month.
Time for festivities!
The holiday of Eid al-Fitr follows the last day of Ramadan and is declared a national holiday in many countries. On this day, Muslims attend special prayers, wear nice clothes and eat out with families and friends. People also give food and money to charities and those less fortunate. Eid this year, falls on August 17, though some places might celebrate it a day earlier or a day later, depending on the sighting of the moon.