Ramadan 2019 begins on Sunday, May 5 after sundown and will last for four weeks until Tuesday, June 4. The festival is considered to the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and is a time of reflection, prayer and fasting. Ramadan celebrates the moment in which the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad, in accordance with Islamic belief. Between sunrise and sunset every day, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity.
Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth of five pillars Muslims follow as spiritual guidelines throughout their life.
Sawm, as the fourth pillar is known, requires all Muslims to fast as a requirement during Ramadan.
The only exceptions made are for pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly and sick.
The pre-dawn meal is called Suhoor while the post-sunset meal is known as Iftar.
The fast will end at sunset when the Maghreb prayers begin, followed by an evening meal traditionally eaten with friends and family.
What does Ramadan Mubarak mean?
Most Muslims will greet one another during Ramadan by saying “Ramadan Mubarak”, which means “Happy Ramadan” or “blessed Ramadan”
Another saying is “Ramadan Kareem” meaning “Heave a generous Ramadan”, although this is not as common as “Ramadan Mubarak”.
Ramadan will typically last 29 or 30 days depending on when the crescent moon is sighted.
The date of the festival changes every year as the Islamic calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar and is based on the lunar cycles.
In addition to fasting, Muslims will use the time to abstain from as many vices as possible such as lying and insulting others.
Charitable giving is usually an important part of Islamic belief and many Muslims will give more generously than normally during Ramadan.
The period ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, officially marking the end of fasting.
Celebrations usually start with a visit to the mosque followed by social gatherings and feasting.
This year, Eid falls on June 4 and is likely to be marked by joyous and colourful get-togethers by Muslims around the world.
Many worshippers will buy new clothes for the day and offer one another gifts.