What is Ramadan?

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims won't eat or drink during the hours of daylight. This is called fasting. Children are not expected to fast until they reach puberty, usually around the age of 14.

Ramadan remembers the month the Qur'an (the Muslim holy book) was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The actual night that the Qur'an was revealed is a night known as Lailut ul-Qadr ('The Night of Power').

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The exact dates of Ramadan change every year. This is because Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon.

In 2020 in the UK, Ramadan will begin in the evening of Thursday 23 April and will end on Saturday 23 May.

Ramadan starts when the new Moon first appears in the night sky. Full moon marks the middle of Ramadan. As the moon wanes to the other side, Ramadan finishes.

How is Ramadan celebrated?

Most Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. Fasting allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith. It is thought to teach self-discipline and reminds them of the suffering of the poor. However, children, pregnant women, elderly people and those who are ill or travelling don't have to fast.

During Ramadan, it is common to have one meal (known as the suhoor), just before sunrise and another (known as the iftar), directly after sunset.

A family share iftar.
A family share iftar. A meal that is eaten after the Sun has gone down during the month of Ramadan.
A Muslim family enjoying a meal

Almost all Muslims try to give up bad habits during Ramadan. It is a time for prayer and good deeds. They will try to spend time with family and friends and help people in need.

Many Muslims will attempt to read the whole of the Qur'an at least once during Ramadan. They will also attend special services in Mosques during which the Qur'an is read.

Eid ul-Fitr

The end of Ramadan is marked by a big celebration called 'Eid ul-Fitr' (the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast).

Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking Allah for the strength he gave them throughout the previous month.

Mosques hold special services and a special meal is eaten during daytime (the first daytime meal for a month).

During Eid ul-Fitr Muslims dress in their finest clothes, give gifts to children and spend time with their friends and family. Muslims will also give money to charity at Eid.

Where next?

What is Islam?
What is Eid ul-Adha?
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What is Ramadan?