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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. It lasts either 29 or 30 days based on the sighing of the cresent moon. Muslims have to refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and sexual relations; and in some interpretations from swearing.
The holiday honors the time when Allah, via the angel Gabriel, revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, to a caravan trader named Muhammad. Muslims believe that fasting cleanses the body, and the practice reminds them of the suffering of the poor. Beginning at age 12, all Muslims take part in the monthlong dawn-to-sunset fast that is the hallmark of Ramadan. Eating and drinking (including water) is prohibited during daylight hours, and the day's abstinence is offset by a nightly meal known as iftar. Food is often shared with a poor family during Ramadan. At the end of the 30-day fast is Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast), when there is much feasting and celebration.