Ramadan falls in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, which is why it changes every year in the Gregorian calendar (also known as the Western or Christian calendar), moving forward approximately 11 days per annum. It commemorates when Allah (Arabic for God) first started to reveal the passages of the Holy Qur’an to the prophet Mohammed, via the angel Gabriel.
During this month all Muslims are expected to fast from daybreak until sunset, refraining from activities such as eating, drinking, smoking and sexual deeds. Some of the more devout Muslims will not even swallow their own saliva.
Once the sun has set the fasting ends with large meals known as Iftar. This is usually an event for the whole family and close friends, but outsiders are often invited to take part in the celebrations. At the end of the month, Ramadan’s completion is celebrated with a three day festival known as “Eid El Fitr” (the festival of breaking the fast).
One of the main reasons that Muslims fast is because it gives them an appreciation of being poor, giving compassion to those who are not as well off. Fasting is also a good way of achieving self-control over the body: resisting the natural urges makes it easier to resist non-natural ones (alcohol and drugs for example).