THE ISLAMIC holy month of Ramadan begins this week as millions of Muslims will begin fasting to bring them closer to their faith and Allah. So what is Ramadan and what does Ramadan Mubarak mean?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a period of time when Muslims observe a month of fasting and dedicate more time to reading the Koran.

Between sunrise and sunset, Muslims abstain from food and drink, the physical ritual allows them to understand the suffering of others.

Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam, which form the basis of how Muslims live their lives.

During the festival, Muslims exchange Ramadan greetings by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” which roughly translates to mean “Happy Ramadan.”

“Ramadan Kareem” translates into “Have a generous Ramadan.”

The month of Ramadan lasts for 29 to 30 days each year depending on the sighting of the moon.

The Islamic calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar and so Ramadan changes every year.

Fasting during Ramadan is a time for Muslims to commit themselves to their faith more to God.

At the end of the fast, when the sun has gone down, families and friends will get together for Iftar to break their fast. Many Muslims also go to the mosque to pray.

At the end of Ramadan, the end of the Holy month is celebrated with a festival – Eid al-Fitr –  or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. It begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky.

During Eid al-Fitr, it is customary to donate to the poor and disadvantaged, and families and friends gather together to thank Allah for the help and strength he gave throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control.

The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky.

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