This article is about religious observances during the month of Ramadan. For the actual calendar month, see Ramadan (calendar month).
Ramaḍān al-Karīm (Ramadan, the Generous), 11 Ayın Sultanı (Sultan of The Months)
29, or 30 Ramadan
11/12 August – 09/10 September
Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان Ramaḍān, Arabic pronunciation: [rɑmɑdˤɑːn]) (also Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, Ramdan, Ramadaan) 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. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. It is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God (Arabic: الله, trans: Allah) and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. As compared to the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards about eleven days each year depending on the moon. Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, and many other important revelations (Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus, etc).
 Origins of Ramadan
The name "Ramadan" had been the name of the ninth month in Arabian culture long before the arrival of Islam; the word itself derived from an Arabic root rmḍ, as in words like "ramiḍa" or "ar-ramaḍ" denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. In the Qu'ran, God proclaims that "fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you". According to the earliest hadith, this refers to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur.
 The start of Ramadan
Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon indicates the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan.
There are disagreements each year however on when Ramadan starts. This stems from Saudi traditions to sight the moon with the naked eye and as such there are differences for countries on opposite sides of the globe. More recently however, some Muslims are leaning towards using astronomical calculations to avoid this confusion. However, many Muslims believe this is incorrect. Muslims are to sight the moon with their naked eye. If it is not sighted the first night, they would not fast the next day. They would however, fast the following day after that even if they can't see the moon.
For the year of 1431 Hijri, the first day of Ramadan was determined to be August 12th, 2010.
 Practices during Ramadan
Main article: Sawm
Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking starting from dawn till dusk. To prepare for the fasting, Muslims wake up before dawn and the fajr prayer to eat a meal (Sahoor). Muslims break their fast at Maghrib (at sunset) prayer time with a meal called Iftar. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set until the next morning's fajr prayer call. Ramadan is a time of reflecting , believing and worshiping God. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual activities during fasting hours are also forbidden. Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised awareness of closeness to God.
The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity (Zakat).
Muslims should start observing the fasting ritual upon reaching the age of puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. People who are travelling long distances do not have to fast. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. A difference of opinion exists among Islamic scholars as to whether this last group must make up the days they miss at a later date, or feed poor people as a recompense for days missed. While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life. Lastly, those traveling (musaafir) are exempt, but must make up the days they miss. More specifically, Twelver Shī'ah define those who travel more than 40 mi (64 km) in a day as exempt.
The elderly or those who suffer from a disability or disease and have no prospect of getting better in the future can pay the cost of Iftar for a person who cannot afford it, or else they can host such a person in their house and have him eat with them after sunset as a way of repaying for the days they could not fast.
A person who is observing Ramadan might break the fast accidentally, due to having forgotten it. In such an instance, one might spit out the food being eaten or cease the forbidden activity, immediately upon remembering the fast. This can usually happen in the early days of Ramadan because that person might have not yet been acclimated into fasting from dawn until dusk.
 Prayer and reading of the Qur'an
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur'an (Juz', which is 1/30 of the Qur'an) is recited. Therefore the entire Qur'an would be completed at the end of the month.
Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involving the preparing of special foods and inviting people for Iftar.
Main article: Iftar
In many Muslim and non-Muslim countries with large Muslim populations, the faithful will abstain from food from sun up to sundown, but at dusk the family will gather for fast-breaking, known as Iftar. The sundown meal starts with the ritual eating of a date — just as Prophet Muhammad was believed to have done. Then it's time for a prayer to thank Allah followed by the meal. In many homes, this is a simple meal of fruits and vegetables along with traditional Middle Eastern fare.
Over time, Iftar has grown into banquets and small festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time. 
Most markets close down during evening prayers and the Iftar meal, but then re-open and stay open for a good part of the night. Muslims can be seen shopping, eating, spending time with their friends and family during the evening hours. In many mid-east countries, this can last late into the evening, to early morning. However, if they try to attend to business as usual, it can become a time of personal trials, fasting without coffee or water.
 Laylat al-Qadr
Sometimes referred to as "the night of decree or measures", Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year. Muslims believe that Laylat al-Qadr is the night in which the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Also, it is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th. They find the day of Laylat al Qadr by looking at the sun at evening time, to see whether if it glowing white. The day the sun is glowing white they decide that it is Laylat Al Qadr.
 Eid ul-Fitr
Main article: Eid ul-Fitr
The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast; a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr); everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. The prayer is two Raka'ahs only, and it is optional (mustahabb) prayer as opposed to the compulsory five daily prayers. Muslims are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.
 Cultural aspects
New Arabic TV shows are broadcast every year in Ramadan on Arabic channels with advertisements about them months before the advent of Ramadan. Egyptian and Syrian TV shows are the dominant shows that are being viewed by people in the various Arab countries. The number of TV shows is rising rapidly, with 38 TV shows produced for Ramadan in 2009 and 50 in 2010. The budget for TV shows has also risen rapidly to set a record in 2010 to be 750 million Egyptian Pounds (EGP) for the total 50 shows. In 2009 the highest budget for a TV show was 25 million EGP while in 2010 this rose to over 40 million. A media tradition of Ramadan is the broadcast of riddles every year in the Egyptian "Fawazir Ramadan" show, which started in the 1950s as a radio series but then became later a TV show and from 1975 the Egyptian performer Nelly was the main actor of the series until 1996. The riddles were revived again in 2001 as Alf Leila we Leila where Nelly also performed but then they ceased again until 2010, where Myriam Fares plays the main actor in Fawazeer Ramadan.
 Economic aspects
In Egypt, national statistics have pointed to substantial increase in consumption of food, electricity, and medications related to digestive disorders during the month of Ramadan as compared with the monthly average in the rest of the year.
 See also
- ^ An Idiot's Guide to Ramadan; BBC, 03 October 2005
- ^ a b Qur'an 2:185
- ^ Ramadan FAQ
- ^ Sunan al-Tirmidhi I.145.
- ^ Goyṭayn, Šelomo D. (1966). Studies in Islamic history and institutions. Leiden, NL: E. J. Brill. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9004030069.
- ^ Hilal Sighting & Islamic Dates: Issues and Solution Insha'Allaah. Hilal Sighting Committee of North America (website). Retrieved 19 August 2009.
- ^ Muslims disagree on start of Ramadan
- ^ Ramadan confusion
- ^ Qur'an 2:187
- ^ Why Ramadan brings us together; BBC, 01 September 2008
- ^ a b Help for the Heavy at Ramadan, Washington Post, 27 September 2008
- ^ See, for example, Should pregnant women fast during Ramadan[dead link], where both points of view are indicated by different scholars; see also The Old, The Pregnant, And The Breast Feeding Not Fasting (archived from the original on 2008-06-08), where different views on this subject are mentioned.
- ^ a b Qur'an 2:184
- ^ Muslims fast and feast as Ramadan begins 8-11-2010
- ^ Ramadan: Muslims feast and fast during holy month access 8-11-2011
- ^ Robinson, Neal (1999). Islam: A Concise Introduction. Washington: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0878402241.
- ^ Al-Jaseem, Diana (11 August 2010). "Ramadan series fever hits Arab families". Arab news. http://arabnews.com/lifestyle/sidelights/article99741.ece. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- ^ Dabsh, Hamdy (11 August 2010). "750 Million pounds to produce 50 TV shows in Ramadan 2010" (in Arabic). Al Masry Al Youm. http://www.almasryalyoum.com/ar/node/63566. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- ^ Meyer, Brigit; Annelies Moors (2006). Religion, media, and the public sphere. Indiana University Press. pp. 217-219. ISBN 9780253346537.
- ^ "Mariam Fares's riddles". Al Bawaba. 23 July 2010. http://www1.albawaba.com/en/entertainment/mariam-fares%E2%80%99s-riddles. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- ^ Abdel-Moneim Said (September 3, 2009), "Wasting Ramadan", Al-Ahram Weekly.