Ramadan Festival, India

Islamic fasting month Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar. A crescent moon marks its beginning and end. Ramadan begins ten to twelve days earlier than the Gregorian calendar year because the Muslim year is shorter. Over 33 years, Ramadan can fall during every season.

The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan -usually on the 27th night of Ramadan, on the "Night of Power" - during one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Islam’s holy book, “as a guide for the people.” For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal Prayer (ṣalāt) in the Mosque, and reading of the Quran. Those who fast, pray, and keep a faithful intention each day during this holy month will have their past sins forgiven.

The Ramadan month, however, is more a time of self-restraint, resulting from the pillar of Islam (the five fundamental tenets of Mohammad's religion) called sawm, or refraining. Although ṣawm is most commonly understood as a compulsion to fast during Ramadan, it mostly refers to refraining from food, drink, sexual activity, and polluted or unkind thoughts between dawn and dusk. False words or bad intentions can demolish a fast as much as eating or drinking.

In the evening, after the sunset prayer, Muslims assemble at their houses or mosques to share a feast called iftar with friends and family. Traditionally, iftar begins with dates, as Muhammad did, or with apricots and water or sweetened milk. A part of prayer is offered at night called the tawarīḥ prayer and is first offered in the congregation of the mosque. The entire Qur'an may be read out loud during these prayers. Some Muslim-majority countries adjust their working hours during the day to accommodate evening worship and sometimes even reduce some. The Quran teaches that eating and drinking are only permitted during the period before the white thread of light begins to separate from the black thread of darkness at dawn.

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