Ramadan 2015: When is it, what is it and how to Muslims observe it?

Ramadan does not have the same date every year as it begins at the start of a new lunar cycle

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The Independent Online

According to the Islamic calendar, which this year runs approximately from 24 October 2014 to 13 October 2015, Ramadan will begin on 18 June and end on 16 July.

What is Ramadan?

A time of spiritual reflection, Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and commemorates when the Quran was first shown to the Prophet Mohamed.

Ramadan is part of the Five Pillars of Islam and sees every Muslim who has reached puberty abstain from food and drink.

The word Ramadan in Arabic means “scorching heat”, a reference to how the festival is named as it burns the sins of its believers.

Some refer to sheep that were burned in the scorching heat of the sun, to the extent that their livers became damaged.

What happens during Ramadan?

Throughout the month, fasting is undertaken by all practising Muslims, during the hours after sunrise until sunset.

During this time, Muslims take the opportunity to increase the number of good deeds that they do, while also avoiding anything that may displease Allah.

Muslim faithfuls eat dinner at Assalam Mosque on June 28, 2014 in Nantes, western France, on the eve the first day of Ramadan (credit: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/ Getty)

Although fasting does take place during Ramadan, practitioners are allowed to eat during night time hours. Some specific groups are also exempted from fasting, such as diabetics and pregnant women.

Charity is especially important to Muslims during this month, in order to maximise the reward when they die.

The "Night of Power" is an evening that takes plase during the month and is considered by Muslims to be the holiest month of the year.

Praying on this night is said to be "better than one thousand months", of proper worship and it is common for people to spend the entire evenign praying.

When does Ramadan begin?

Due to the fact that different astronomical calculations can occur at different points around the world, this has resulted in Ramadan beginning at different times in the past.

The end of the fast is marked by the festival of Eid or Eid al-Fitr, a single day when Muslims are not permitted to fast.