Ramadan is the holiest time of the year in the Islamic religion. It is observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It begins when there is a new moon. The lunar calendar is not the same as the solar calendar in everyday use, so Ramadan does not begin on the same day every year. It oftens begins on a day in April or early May.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. The purpose of fasting is to teach self control, to be reminded of people who suffer, and to concentrate completely on being a good person.
Children, pregnant women, and people who are sick are not expected to fast during Ramadan. People normally start fasting when they are teenagers.
In addition to fasting during Ramadan, many Muslims try to do good deeds and to give up bad habits. They also try to strengthen their religious beliefs by going to mosques and studying the Koran.
During Ramadan people have 2 meals each day. One meal, called "suhoor", happens before the sun rises. The other meal, called the "iftar", is after sunset. The iftar often begins with eating dates. Traditionally, dates are known as the food Muhammad ate when he broke his fast.
A big 3-day celebration called Eid ul Fitr (Breaking of the Fast) happens immediately after Ramadan. Muslims celebrate the end of fasting, and, through prayers, give thanks. Eid (pronounced "eed") is also a time of giving to others. People give to charity, give gifts to others, and spend time with family and friends.