Duties and festivals

Despite the guidance given to Muslims, maintaining a disciplined life can be difficult. The duties and festivals that Muslims follow can help them stay closer to God.


Sawm is the obligation on Muslims to fast between sunrise and sunset during the month of Ramadan.

The fast is broken at sunset, often with a sweet food such as dates, before a bigger meal is eaten. This is known as iftar.

Those who should not fast

  • Children under the age of 12.
  • Old people.
  • People with medical conditions.
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating.
  • People who are travelling.

If it is possible to do so, Muslims who have missed a few days of the fast make up for it by fasting for the same number of days after Ramadan has ended.

Is it just not eating or drinking?

Ramadan is a time for both physical and moral self-discipline. It is a time of obedience to Allah and a time of understanding hunger.

The Qur’an teaches that, during this time of religious purity, Muslims should not listen to music, have sex or smoke. Muslims also try to avoid bad thoughts and actions. The holy month of Ramadan is also about spending extra time studying the Qur’an and attending mosque, as well as making an extra effort to help those in need.

The Night of Power

Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, is the name given to the night that the Angel Jibril first appeared to Muhammad and began revealing the Qur’an. It is celebrated during Ramadan as it is seen as a time of thanksgiving for the Qur’an.

Read! In the name of your Lord who created: He created man from a clinging form [a blood clot]. Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One who taught by [means of] the pen, who taught what he [Muhammad] did not know.Qur’an 96:1–5

Laylat al-Qadr is the holiest night of the year and is described as better than a thousand months (Qur’an 97:3). Muslims try to stay awake for the whole night praying and studying the Qur’an. Muslims come together to celebrate in the mosque, and it is believed that it is a time when Allah will forgive their sins.

During the month of Ramadan, the whole of the Qur’an is read from beginning to end.


Apart from eating during daylight hours, what else do Muslims give up during Ramadan?

Listening to music, having sex, smoking and engaging in bad thoughts and actions.