Holy Month of Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year, the holy month of fasting ordained by the Koran for all adult Muslims of the Islamic faith. According to the Koran, the fast of Ramadan has been instituted so that believers "may cultivate piety"; this particular month was designated because it was the month during which Muhammad received the first of the Koran's revelations. "Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, 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, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful." - Al-Baqara 2:185 The fast during Ramadan begins each day at dawn, when the "white thread becomes distinct from the black thread," and ends immediately at sunset. During the fast Muslims are forbidden to eat, drink, or smoke. Before retirement each night, special congregational prayers are offered in which long passages of the Koran are recited. The night between the 26th and 27th days of Ramadan, on which the first revelation occurred, is called the Night of Determination, during which, according to the Koran, God determines the course of the world for the following year.
The day after the end of Ramadan is called the Fast-Breaking and is celebrated with special prayers and festivities. Islamic Calendar The Islamic calendar is a lunar one used in most Muslim countries. It is reckoned from A.D. 622, the day after the Hegira, or flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. The Islamic year consists of 12 lunar months. Thirty years constitute a cycle in which the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 26th, and 29th years are leap years of 355 days; the others are common years of 354 days. The Islamic date corresponding to a date in the Gregorian calendar can be computed by the following rule, with a maximum error of one day: multiply 970,224 by the Islamic year, divide by 6 decimal places, and add 621.5774. The figure to the left of the decimal point is the year A.D., and the decimal fraction multiplied by 365 is the day of the year.