Ramadan is the holy month of fasting where all Muslims who have reached puberty and who are able to refrain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days according to the visual sightings of the crescent moon. Quran ordained fasting as the fourth pillar of Islam. This month is particularly significant in the Islamic calendar as it was in this month that the first chapters of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him).
"Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also 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." Al-Baqara 2:185.
Ramdan has many physical and spiritual benefits such as promote greater mental clarity, cleanse and heal "stuck" emotional patterns, lead to a feeling of physical lightness, and increasing energy level. It is a blissful month of meditation, reflection and self-reformation, allowing people to renew and purify their faith.
During Ramadan, the fast begins at sunrise, when the "white thread becomes distinct from the black thread," (Al-Baqarah 2:187), and ends at sunset. Most Muslims rise before dawn for an early meal, known as Suhoor. Whilst observing the fast Muslims are forbidden to eat, drink, smoke or take part in sexual intercourse. According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) broke his fast at the end of each day with a date, a custom that is widely practiced amongst many Muslims; the meal prepared for ending the fast is known as Iftar and is considered to be a time for families to gather together and break bread.
Although fasting is compulsory there are many who are exempt from observing it, because after all Islam is a merciful religion and isn’t meant to harm you or push you to more than your limit. People who are excused from fasting are the elderly, the sick, those who are on a journey and women who are pregnant or menstruating are not expected to keep the fast. Because fasting is an act of worship, they are required however, to make up an equal amount of days later in the year. Those who are unable to do so must feed a needy person for each day that has been missed.