Ramadan: June 28-July 28

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Ramadan falls in the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year and is one of the largest holidays for Muslims. It begins when the new moon is spotted; each year it begins approximately 10 to 11 days earlier. It was during Ramadan that Allah (God) first revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammed. Ramadan is a month of spiritual reflection and self-control through fasting. Fasting, including abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and sexual relations, is from sunrise to sunset for the full month. Each night the fast is broken with a celebratory feast, iftar, together with family and friends. Ramadan teaches patience and humility by exposing Muslims to the feeling of being poor through fasting. It also teaches gratefulness, forgiveness and mercy. People who are sick, pregnant, elderly or traveling are not allowed to fast. Children begin fasting when they hit puberty.
People dedicate themselves to prayer during this month and self-reflection. It is a time to ask forgiveness, resolve old disputes, dedicate oneself to self-improvement and perform good deeds. People also try to help those less fortunate by giving food and money, zakat. Zakat was originally collected in the time of Prophet Muhammed to free slaves from their masters. Ramadan culminates in a large celebration, Eid al-Fitr, marked by the appearance of the new moon. Children often receive new clothing and other goodies as a gift on the last day.

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