Ramadan is regarded as a special time of spiritual discipline and purification by millions of practicing Muslims across the globe. The month-long fast is marked by local traditions and holy rituals alike. By Lewis Sanders
Islam's holiest month: every year, millions of practicing Muslims across the world fast, pray and give alms in observance of Ramadan, which began in 2019 on 5 May and ended on the evening of 4 June
Moon sighting: the sighting of the new moon of Ramadan is practiced by religious authorities across the globe to determine the beginning of the month of fasting. While some observe the new moon with telescopes, others use the naked eye, which is why Ramadan may begin on different days in different parts of the world
Prayer is a fundamental part of observing the month of fasting. Ramadan traditionally begins with a special prayer known as "Taraweeh" on the eve of the holy month. During Ramadan, practicing Muslims participate regularly in communal prayers at their local mosque
Recitation: the month of fasting represents a period of spiritual discipline and purification. As such, reading and reciting the Koran, Islam's holy book, forms an integral part of the traditional rituals observed during Ramadan. The Koran is believed to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the month of Ramadan
Local traditions: while Islam offers prescribed rituals to observe during Ramadan, many places have local traditions that coincide with the month of fasting. In Sarajevo, a cannon is traditionally fired to mark the breaking of the fast on each day of Ramadan
Breaking fast: after a long day without food and water, many Muslims traditionally break their fast with a date, the nutritious fruit with which the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have broken his fast. Afterwards, observing Muslims often partake in a communal dinner known as "iftar"
Eid ul-Fitr: the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, or the festival of breaking the fast, marks the official end of Ramadan. From indulging in sweets to offering gifts to loved ones, Muslims celebrate the end of the fasting month with large meals prepared for friends and family. It is considered a joyful time in which to be generous and kind to others