The blessed month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. As a commemoration of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, and as an essential pillar of faith, able-bodied Muslims fast each and every day throughout the entire month, only eating and drinking at night.
A special prayer called ‘taraweeh‘ is also observed nightly as a recommended act of devotion. Taraweeh is often performed in congregation, with the Qur’an being recited audibly for all to reflect upon. It is common for Muslims to complete atleast one full reading of the Qur’an over the span of Ramadan.
Towards the end of Ramadan, those who are financially capable are Islamically required to donate a nominal amount to help feed the poor so that all may partake in the festivities of Eid-ul-Fitr. The term for such a contribution is ‘fitra‘ or ‘zakat-ul-fitr‘.
The annual observance of Ramadan typically lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon. The entire month is a spiritually charged season of moral development, charity, community, and worship.
Traditionally, the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars throughout history have predominately avoided depending on astronomical calculations when determining the lunar-based Islamic calendar. This is important to consider given that so many Islamic scholars were adept astronomers that developed highly accurate methods of moon tracking comparable to modern scientific means. Undoubtedly, resorting to calculations is useful, but one can not and should not completely depend on them. For an in-depth academic discussion of the topic, please refer to Sh. Hamza Yusuf’s essay, ‘Cesarean Moon Births’.