Traditions and rituals of Ramadan

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Ramadan: Islam's holiest month

Every year, millions of practicing Muslims across the world fast, pray and give alms in observance of Islam's holiest month. From firing off cannon to lunar sightings, DW explores how Muslims mark the occasion and what it means to the faithful.

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Moon sighting

The sighting of the new moon of Ramadan is practiced by religious authorities across the globe to determine the beginning of the month of fasting. While some observe the new moon with telescopes, others use the naked eye, which is why Ramadan may begin on different days in certain parts of the world.

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Prayer

Prayer is often considered a fundamental part of observing the month of fasting. Ramadan traditionally begins with a special prayer known as "Tarawih" on the eve of the holy month. During Ramadan, practicing Muslims generally participate in communal prayer at their local mosque.

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Recitation

The month of fasting represents a period of spiritual discipline and purification. As such, reading and reciting the Quran, Islam's holy book, form an integral part of the traditional rituals observed during Ramadan. The Quran is believed to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the month of Ramadan.

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Local traditions

While Islam offers prescribed rituals to observe during Ramadan, many places have local traditions that coincide with the month of fasting. In Sarajevo, a cannon is traditionally fired to mark the breaking of the fast on each day of Ramadan. In Egypt, displaying a decorated lantern known as a "fanous" is part of the tradition.

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Breaking fast

After a long day without food and water, many Muslims traditionally break their fast with a date, the nutritious fruit with which the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have broken his fast. Afterwards, observing Muslims often partake in a communal dinner known as "Iftar."

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Eid al-Fitr

The celebration of Eid al-Fitr, or the festival of breaking the fast, marks the official end of Ramadan. From indulging in sweets to offering gifts to loved ones, Muslims celebrate the end of the fasting month with large meals prepared for friends and family. It is considered a joyful time in which to be generous and kind to others.

Ramadan marks a special time of spiritual discipline and purification for millions of practicing Muslims across the globe. From local traditions to holy rituals, DW examines the religious month of fasting.