peace be upon you Most beautiful month in the year Each year, Islamic and Arab nation well And Muslims all over the world to the health and happiness allah says in the Holy Qur'an 185. The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan ie is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [ of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [ie to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. Muslims spend the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observing a community-wide fast. The annual fast of Ramadan is considered one of the five "pillars" of Islam. Muslims who are physically able are required to fast each day of the entire month, from sunrise to sunset. The evenings are spent enjoying family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the Qu'ran. Aside from the five-times-daily prayer, fasting during the month of Ramadan is the most visible and recognizable of Muslim acts the world over. During the 30-odd days of Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast during daylight hours, drinks included, and abstain from bodily pleasures like sex or other forms of sensual abandon. The focus is on humility, spiritual oneness with God and social oneness with the umma, or Islamic community, across the globe. Fasting in Islam has its origins in Judaism, Christianity and the pre-Islamic Arab world. Although Ramadan is when Muslims fast most, they may fast voluntarily the rest of the year, or fast three days a month, or six days during the month of Sawwal, which follows the month of Ramadan, or fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Each of these proscriptions is recognized in Islam. prophet Muhammad peace be upon him once said, "If one does not abandon falsehood in words and deeds, Allah has no need for his abandoning of food and drink." It is therefore imperative that the fasting person not only refrains from food and drink, but also from foul speech, lying, arguing, and the like. Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits - essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words. During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast. During the fast, Muslims experience hunger and thirst and learn to sympathize with those in the world who have little to eat. They come to appreciate the blessings that Allah grants them. Through increased charity during the month, Muslims develop feelings of generosity and goodwill toward others. And since all Muslims in the world are undergoing the same experience at the same time, this practice strengthens community bonds throughout the Muslim world. The Qur'an commands as follows: "Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was sent down, as a guide to mankind, and clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong. So every one of you who is present at his home during that month should spend it in fasting. But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period should be made up by days later "(Qur'an 2:185). Therefore, every Muslim is required to fast, with the following exceptions: Travelers Those who are suffering from a temporary illness The elderly or chronically ill Women in menses or postchildbirth bleeding Pregnant or nursing women Children who have not yet reached adolescence If possible, missed days are to be made up at a later time. If the reason for exception is long-term, then the missed days may be compensated for by giving in charity enough to feed one poor person for each day of fasting. Children are not required to fast until they reach puberty. However, many children like to join in the activities of the family and try to fast for a day or part of a day. Sometimes they will fast on the weekends, for example, or will fast from noon until sunset. This is encouraged as practice for the day when fasting will be incumbent upon them. On a day of fasting, Muslims rise before dawn for an early meal called suhoor. This light meal is intended to nourish the body through the rigorous daylong fast. The fast begins with the predawn call to prayer. Muslims continue through their daily lives of work, school, or other commitments, conscious of the limitations of fasting, and striving to be on their best behavior. Muslims continue to observe the daily prayers as usual and often spend part of the day reading chapters of the Qur'an. As sunset approaches, Muslims often gather together as family or community to break the fast and enjoy a meal together at the end of the day. Muslims break their fast just as the call to prayer for the sunset prayer is heard. Following the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims often break their fast by eating dates and drinking some milk. After the sunset prayers, they sit down together for an evening meal called fitoor (technically, "breakfast"). In the evening, Muslims gather at the mosque for special prayers called taraweeh. These extra prayers are offered each night of Ramadan. Every evening, a section of the Qur'an will be read in a long prayer, so that by the end of the month the entire Qur'an will have been heard. Muslims also spend time visiting with friends and relatives before retiring for the night to rest before starting the fast again the next day.