This month we are entering Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is famously observed by Muslims everywhere as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.
The observance of Ramadan is so important that it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.
Fasting, no eating or drink until sunset
When fasting Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn until sunset and smoking is also avoided. Fatwas have been issued stating that Muslims who live in regions with unusual natural conditions such as the midnight sun or polar night should follow the timetable of Mecca. The start and end of Ramadan is based on sightings of the crescent moon. Since the new moon marks the beginning of the new month Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan, for example this year Ramadan will fall on June 7th in the UK. Nevertheless, for many Muslims, knowing the likely date is not good enough and there must be visual confirmation of the crescent moon in each region.