Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is celebrated by Muslims around the world.
The month marks the first revelation of the Qu’ran to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad.
When is Ramadan 2017?
According to the sighting of the crescent moon, this year the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on Friday, May 26.
Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology that can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.
Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate than themselves.
It is also is seen as a way to physically and spiritually cleanse the soul through exercising self-restraint.
Fasting Muslims do not eat during daylight hours and pray throughout the day and night.
They will break their fast once the sun has set with an iftaar meal with friends and family.
There are some exceptions on who should fast, including children, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions.
What else do Muslims do during Ramadan?
Prayer is a key part of the month. Islamic Relief UK has compiled a prayer timetable via the East London Mosque with timings applicable for London, as well as local variations.
Muslims often give to charities during the month, and mosques and aid organisations organise free meals for the public every night.
Sexual intercourse between spouses is off-limits during the day, while Muslims also are encouraged to be particularly mindful of their behaviour and to avoid gossiping, swearing and arguing.
When does Ramadan end?
The four-week period will draw to a close on the evening of Saturday, June 24.
The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, which culminates in scenes of merriment and thanksgiving, with families and friends gathering to exchange gifts, enjoy food and festively decorate their homes.