What is Ramadan? The Muslim Holy Month, Explained

From NOTICE News Daily for March 22, 2023

The Islamic holiday of Ramadan, a month-long observance where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, has begun. We explain what it’s all about.


Ramadan is a month-long Islamic holiday where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, refraining from food, drink, and vices. It’s a time for practicing charity and prayer, and breaking the fast with a big meal called iftar. Ramadan is celebrated on a different date each year since the Islamic calendar is lunar-based. Exceptions are made for those who cannot participate safely, and it’s similar to Christian Lent and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. >> More from Encyclopedia Britanica


March 22nd marked the beginning of one of the world’s most celebrated religious holidays. Ramadan is an Islamic holiday where adherents to Islam, or Muslims, fast for 30 days.

According to tradition, it was during the month of Ramadan that God delivered to the Prophet Mohammed the Quran, Islam’s holy book. To mark this occasion, all month long, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking anything, including water, as well as any activity that’s considered a vice, from sunrise to sunset.

During the 30-day fast, Muslims put a more intentional effort into following the teachings of Islam, including acts of charity and nightly prayers. While generally everyone is expected to participate in the fast, there are exceptions made for those who have health conditions, are pregnant, or are too young or old to participate safely.

Some experts compare it to the 40-day season of prayer and fasting in Christianity called Lent, or the Jewish holiday of fasting, Yom Kippur. Ramadan though falls on a different date every year because Muslims have a calendar based on the movements of the moon. That’s called a lunar calendar.

Islam is the 2nd most followed religion in the world, just behind Christianity. It’s also the 3rd most practiced religion in the United States; approximately 4.5 million people practice Islam here, which is about 1.3% of the population.

The best part of Ramadan though? Most people say it’s the iftar – a big meal with family and friends that’s held after sundown and evening prayer to break the day’s fast.

To our Muslim friends, Happy Ramadan – or Ramadan Mubarak.