Ramadan a important holiday for Muslims all around the world. During the month of Ramadan Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. Muslims have to stop eating and drinking before the call for prayer starts until the fourth prayer of the day. Muslims break their fast at sunset prayer time with a meal called Iftar. After sunset Muslims can continue to eat till the next morning after that the process starts all over.
Ramadan is a time of reflecting and worshipping Allah. All Muslims are expected to put effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. The fast is meant to be a way of exacting a act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised awareness of closeness to Allah. This act of fasting is said to redirect the mind and heart from worldly activities. This act of deep personal worship is to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self discipline, self control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate.
During Ramadan it is very common for Muslims to go to the Mosque and spend several hours praying and studying the Quran. In addition to the five daily prayers during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh or night prayer. The length of this prayer is 2-3 times as long as the daily prayers, some Muslims even spend the entire night in prayer.
Muslims should start observing the fasting ritual upon reaching adolescence, so long as they are healthy, sane, and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and mentally ill are exempted from fasting, but the first two groups must feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. During Ramadan Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in staying away from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self restraint and good deeds. The dates of Ramadan vary moving forward about ten days each year as it is a moving holiday.
Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow their from their worldly affairs and focus on self reformation. This is to establish a link between Allah and themselves 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 friends and family and for giving the poor and needy who cannot afford it.
In many Muslim and non Muslim countries with large Muslim population markets close down in the evening to enable people to perform prayers and consume the Iftar meal. These markets re open and stay open for a good part of the night. Muslims can be seen eating, shopping, and spending time with their friends and family during the evening hours. After the month of Ramadan has passed Muslims are encouraged to fast for another six days When fasting is over Muslims go to mosques in nice cloths and pray to Allah and thank him for what Allah has given them.