Ramadan is intended originated as an observation of the first revelation of the Qur'an to Prophet Mohammed.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It begins upon the visual sighting of the last full moon of the year and lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the year. The holiday of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month.
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness.
The common practice during Ramadan is fasting from dawn to sunset. The pre-dawn meal before the fast is called the suhur, while the meal at sunset that breaks the fast is the iftar. Considering the high diversity of the global Muslim population, it is impossible to describe typical suhur or iftar meals.
Muslims also engage in increased prayer and charity during Ramadan. Ramadan is also a month where Muslims try to practice increased self-discipline.
Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. The fast (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also increase restraint, such as abstaining from sexual relations and generally sinful speech and behavior. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity.
It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy and sane, and have no disabilities or illnesses. Many children endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life.
Exemptions to fasting are travel, menstruation, severe illness, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. However, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to satisfy their spiritual needs, although it is not recommended by the hadith. Professionals should closely monitor such individuals who decide to persist with fasting. Those who were unable to fast still must make up the days missed later.
A review of the literature by an Iranian group suggested fasting during Ramadan might produce renal injury in patients with moderate or worse kidney disease, but was not injurious to renal transplant patients with good function or most stone forming patients.
Muslims will continue to work during Ramadan. The prophet Muhammad said that it is important to keep a balance between worship and work. In some Muslim countries, such as Oman, however, working hours are shortened during Ramadan.