What do Muslims believe and do? Understanding the 5 Pillars of Islam | Faith and values

If you have heard of or seen your Muslim neighbors fasting, then what they are observing is Ramadan. Muslims believe that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and lasts 29 or 30 days. During Ramadan, Muslims observe a sunrise to sunset fast every day, so they get up early to share food before the sun appears and end it later in the evening.

In the 12-month Gregorian calendar used in much of the world, the timing of Ramadan can vary from year to year. The dates depend on when the new crescent moon is visible.

Fasting, as scholar Mohammad Hassan Khalil explains, is a way for Muslims to be aware of God. It also aims to help them understand what it is like to be poor.

The fast ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Muslim communities often hold large feasts to break the fast, called “Iftaar” (literally “breakfast”), during which people of all faiths are welcomed. I have often attended Iftaar parties in India.

On Eid Day, Muslims gather in the mosque for prayers, which are followed by celebrations. In many countries in South Asia, wastewater is distributed to friends and neighbors. But customs may vary, and Muslims from different countries and cultures will bring their unique food and traditions to the celebrations of this holy day.

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