Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. What happens during Ramadan and what does it mean to millions of Muslims worldwide?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims all over the world. Observing Ramadan is one of the five 'pillars' of Islam. During Ramadan, all Muslims over the age of about 12, with some exceptions, are expected to fast between dawn and sunset.  

When does it take place?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which follows the phases of the moon. This means the dates of Ramadan change each year. The month starts when the new crescent moon is first visible in the night sky. Fasting ends with the arrival of the next lunar month, which starts with the first glimpse of the new crescent moon.

How do people fast?

During Ramadan, the day starts early so that people can eat a pre-fast meal before dawn. This meal, called Suhoor, is important as it will keep them going through the day. During daylight hours, fasting Muslims cannot eat food or drink water or any other drinks. In late spring or early summer, this is particularly difficult as the day can be very long. People who live in polar regions, where daylight can last 22 hours or more, can choose to follow the dawn and sunset times in Mecca or a nearby country where the sky is dark at night.  

Are all Muslims expected to fast?

Not all Muslims are expected to fast. Children under the age of 12, people who are travelling, elderly people, pregnant women and others where it may affect their health are exempt. Those who can't fast for any reason can offer to feed poor people for each day they miss during Ramadan.

What happens at sunset?

People can eat and drink again once the sun has set. The traditional way to break the fast is by eating dates and drinking a glass of water. Then, the evening meal, Iftar, is a social event that can go on for hours. It is common for people to eat together in large groups of family and friends. Special foods are prepared and shared, and desserts are particularly popular. Muslims often include charity in Iftar as well, sharing Iftar with members of the community who cannot buy or make their own food. Across the Muslim world, mosques and aid organisations set up tents and tables for the public in poorer communities to eat free Iftar meals every night of Ramadan.

Why do people fast?

Muslims fast during Ramadan to bring them closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of people who are less fortunate than themselves. Fasting is an exercise in self-control. As well as not eating, drinking or smoking, Muslims try to avoid bad actions, like talking about people behind their backs or using bad language. Ramadan is a time for people to work on being more patient, more tolerant and more mindful of the people around them. It is a moment to reflect and work on being better people.

Many Muslims also donate money to charities during the month, and a lot of Islamic charities organise food packs for people in poorer countries or refugee camps. Giving donations to charity, known as Zakat, is particularly important during the holy month, and so is prayer, meditation and reading the Qur'an.

How is the end of Ramadan celebrated?

Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the month of fasting. There are many Eid traditions, mainly centred around family, food, generosity and festivities. On Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims wake up early and dress in their finest clothes to attend the Eid prayers. After prayers, they wish each other a happy Eid ('Eid Mubarak' in Arabic) before spending the rest of the day with their extended families, enjoying good food and sharing gifts with children and loved ones.


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Submitted by raxmatovdilmurod on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 10:10

I amn't always observe Ramadan. Because of illness I had to drink some drugs during a day

Submitted by Nuha1993 on Mon, 25/11/2019 - 12:49

Ramadan is the from most important months of Islamic calendar. In this months the door of heaven is open . all people feel comfort because most of community sharing to help each other . The night of Ramadan is very different about others day al mosque is crowd with people pry and then is finish at 11 pm back home still wake up until 6 am after finish suhoor.
Hi Nuha you have some mistake and I'd to correct it if you don't mind, first this sentence "Ramadan is the from most important months of Islamic calendar" I don't know why you wrote (from) I think it's better without it. the second line you wrote months this just one not many you should write month without s. In the second line, you should write like this (All people feel comfortable). thanks and have a nice day.

Submitted by olo on Wed, 13/11/2019 - 08:12

I am not a religious person but I know some people who fasting during Ramadan. In my opinion fasting is very good for healthy because organism have rest from food and regenerate. In my life I also fasting but not of religious reason but healthy reason. So I think fasting is very useful to regenerate physical and mind conditions.

Submitted by parisaach on Wed, 21/08/2019 - 05:31

In my country some people fast in Ramadan, It is a rule that people can't eat and drink during Ramadan and people don't obey this rule will be punished. many people don't obey that rule because they can't stay hungry and thirsty during this long time and some of them don't Believe Ramadan. In my country girls should fast after 9 years old and boys should do it after age 15. I think it is not fair a 9 years old girl which is just a child considered grown up while a 15 years old boy is really grown up. Here resturants should be closed during Ramadan but in many offices people eat and drink during Ramadan though in governmental office it is not allowed, so if you can't fast you should find a place to eat and drink secretly. ok maybe for you from outside it is really beautiful and meaningful but for me here is just a hell and there is no meaning to fast or anything imagine when don't drink 20 hours everyday what happened to you? you'd better edit your article

Hello parisaach

Thank you for sharing your experience and opinion. We did quite a bit of research for this article and had it checked by colleagues who also know Ramadan first hand. I'm sorry that what it relates does not reflect your experience.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Shahd Shawaf on Sat, 01/06/2019 - 16:25

Yes I do. Ramadan is my favourite month. I always fast during Ramadan every year as long as I'm in a healthy condition. I really feel tired but It's ok as it bring us closer to God. Eid will be in 4 days so I wish a happy eid for all muslims around the world.
Hello Huda A. The phrases are similar in meaning. ~ We use the phrase 'an exercise in...' to mean 'a test of...' In the text, fasting is described as an exercise in self-control because it is a test of self-control: without self-control, you cannot succeed in this. ~ The phrase 'the exercise of...' means 'using...' You could say, therefore, that 'fasting requires the exercise of self-control'. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team