Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting(sawm), prayer, reflection and community. A commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation,the annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
Fasting from dawn to sunset is fard (obligatory) for all adult Muslims who are not acutely or chronically ill, travelling, elderly, breastfeeding, diabetic, or menstruating.The predawn meal is referred to as suhur, and the nightly feast that breaks the fast is called iftar.
Although fatwas have been issued declaring that Muslims who live in regions with a midnight sun or polar night should follow the timetable of Mecca,it is common practice to follow the timetable of the closest country in which night can be distinguished from day.
The spiritual rewards (thawab) of fasting are believed to be multiplied during Ramadan. Muslims refrain not only from food and drink, but also tobacco products, sexual relations, and sinful behavior,devoting themselves instead to salat (prayer) and recitation of the Quran.
Muslims hold that all scripture was revealed during Ramadan, the scrolls of Abraham, Torah, Psalms, Gospel, and Quran having been handed down on the first, sixth, twelfth, thirteenth (in some sources, eighteenth) and twenty-fourth Ramadans, respectively. Muhammed is said to have received his first quranic revelation on Laylat al-Qadr, one of five odd-numbered nights that fall during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Although Muslims were first commanded to fast in the second year of Hijra (624 CE) they believe that the practice of fasting is not in fact an innovation of monotheism but rather has always been necessary for believers to attain taqwa (the fear of God).They point to the fact that the pre-Islamic pagans of Mecca fasted on the tenth day of Muharram to expiate sin and avoid drought. Philip Jenkins argues that the observance of Ramadan fasting grew out of “the strict Lenten discipline of the Syrian Churches,” a postulation corroborated by other scholars, including theologian Paul-Gordon Chandler,but disputed by some Muslim academics.