Ramadan is the most sacred holiday of the Muslim year and is mandated by the Qur'an (2:183). It occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the holy month of fasting. Fasting is considered to be the third pillar or religious obligation of Islam and provides many benefits including learning self-control. This results from a lack of preoccupation with satisfying bodily appetites during the daylight hours. Ramadan is a time of worship, reading the Qur'an, charitable acts, and the purification of individual behavior. This is also the time in which the Qur'an was revealed to Mohammed as guidance for the people.
Ramadan begins when a trusted witness testifies that the new moon has been sighted. Consequently, the fasting may be delayed if the moon is not visible. During this period, Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until dusk each day. Ramadan is a time of atonement somewhat similar to Yom Kippur and Lent.
Ramadan ends with Eid-al-Fitr or the Festival of Fast-Breaking which is joyous celebration marked by a special gift of charity. Muslims dress in holiday apparel and attend a community prayer in the morning.