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 Thinthinmyoe on Sat, 05/06/2021 - 13:25

Although I'm not a Muslim,I respect to other religions.

Submitted by Jawed_3 on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 09:18

Ramadan is a very important month for all people, not only for Muslims, because Allah's particular mercy descends in Ramadan.

Yeees, Ramadan is a special month in which Muslims (as human beings that consist of two sides, physically and spiritually), rise spiritually and try to thank Allah as much as possible for everything Allah has given to us. This Mubarak month reminds us of the purpose of human creation: Knowing and worshiping Allah. Thank you Britishcouncil for giving us the opportunity to express our feelings about this blessed month.

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Submitted by danisep on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 16:33

No, I'm not Muslim I'm Christian and I have taken somedays to fast I think that is good to improve self-control and help with some health affairs. I see with good eyes when we try to help others, I think that is something that we must do with more frequently.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 18:10

I think the question "Do you observe Ramadan?" isn't correct, because it presupposes all people are muslim. In my opinion a more appropriate espression had been: "If you are muslim, do you observe Ramadan?".

Hello cittàutopica,

The question is fine. It doesn't assume anything and the answer can quite easily be 'No, I don't because I'm not Muslim'.


It's not necessary to preface questions like this with an 'If you are...' clause. For example, neither of the questions below make any presuppositions:

Do you celebrate New Year?

Do you celebrate Christmas?



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Marey Saad on Tue, 10/11/2020 - 19:26

I am a Muslim, and I am a bit surprised by the accuracy of the information. It is a holy month for us and I wouldn't say it is a Muslim tradition because it is a religious value more than a normal tradition, and by the way many scientific researches proved that fasting is very very beneficial for the human body, and we as Muslims believe that Allah wouldn't command us to do something unless it comes back with benefits to us. This is the Islamic religion dear, Thanks a lot, British Council.
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Submitted by ALMOND on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 07:43

I've been fasting for 6 years each Ramadan month .. it's something amazing believe me !

Submitted by Muhammad Bagir on Mon, 18/05/2020 - 04:52

yes, i'm living in the largest moslem country in the world.

Submitted by Ahmadshah Heshaam on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 10:02

A Muslim when arrived to the eagles of puberty should observe this month and as I'm a Muslim, l also observe Ramadan and I'm happy. Ramadan is the best month for us, during this month there is a lot of opportunity for forgiveness. Now I'm fasting and I feel powerful and hopeful of getting rewards. Happy Ramadan to all...