Ramadan: 10 things you need to know about the Islamic month of fasting
1) Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset.
2) During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in resisting everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.
3) Muslims must also pray as many times as they can during Ramadan, as well as read the whole of the Koran.
4) While fasting, Muslims may only eat two meals a day, one before sunrise and the other after sunset.
5) As compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards about ten days each year depending on the moon.
6) Muslims are expected to start observing the fasting ritual once they reach puberty, as long as they are healthy. The elderly, the chronically ill and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting.
7) Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
8) During the month following Ramadan, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days, known as "the white six."
9) The most important day of Ramadan is the "Laylat al-Qadr", or "The Night of Power", which takes place during the last ten days of Ramadan. Muslims believe this is when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
10) The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan, and is celebrated after 30 days of fasting on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic Calendar.