A guide to Ramadan: the Islamic month of fasting

Beginning the night of Thursday, March 23, 2023, is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar: Ramadan.

During Ramadan, Muslims all across the world gather and observe the ninth month of the Islamic calendar by abstaining from indulgence and praying to become closer to God. Though popularly known as the time of fasting, abstinence from indulgence also includes tobacco products, sexual activity and more.

The month of Ramadan is considered sacred because it marks when Allah (SWT) gave the first chapters of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Ramadan festivities last over a period of 30 days, with traditions and festivities for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Here’s a brief guide to a day in the life of a fasting Muslim!


The pre-dawn meal before fasting begins is known as Suhoor. Suhoor offers the energy needed to fast from sunrise all the way to sunset.

Popular foods that will appear on the kitchen table for a fulfilling Suhoor meal include eggs, oats, fruits and vegetables, fava beans and much more. Of course, don’t forget the shay tea and water. 

Prayer and enhanced dua’a

Practicing Muslims pray five times regularly, no matter the month, but consistency in praying during Ramadan is especially important. These five prayers include Fajr, before sunrise; Duhr, early afternoon; Asr, late afternoon; Maghrib, after sunset; and Isha, before sleep.

During Ramadan, there is an emphasis on recitation of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, and dua’a, prayers of invocation. These acts of worship are meant to strengthen one’s relationship with God and clear one of their sins during such a holy time of year.

Ramadan is commonly called a clean slate for that reason. It is a time of personal and spiritual reset, to purify and start anew after the previous year.


After many hours of fasting and spiritual reflection, the sun will set and Iftar will commence. Iftar is the meal that breaks one’s fast. One will conclude their fast by eating something small—typically a date or two—then pray Maghrib. After prayer, larger meals will proceed.

Iftar is not just a personal feast, but a time for community, during which family and close friends gather, eat and pray together.


During Ramadan, there is a voluntary prayer called Taraweeh. Taraweeh is led by the congregation as a way to listen to long recitations of the Quran and to perform many optional rak’ah (cycles of movement in Islamic prayer). It is spiritually beneficial and one of the gifts of Ramadan.

Fun fact: the term Taraweeh is derived from the Arabic word meaning rest and relaxation!

By abstaining from indulgence and focusing solely on the relationship between God, Muslims wish to bring knowledge into their minds and remembrance into their hearts. Ramadan is also a time of enhanced charity, giving back in even just the smallest ways such as donating to the local mosque.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, which makes it a requirement for every Muslim. However, there are exceptions. These exceptions include people with health problems, women who are nursing, menstruating women, traveling people, the elderly, and children who haven’t yet hit puberty.

Fasting opens the door for a clearer mind in which Muslims can start anew with clean slates, be rid of old, bad habits and replace them with new, healthier ones. It is a time to practice patience, gratitude and so much more.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Author: Mays Turabi

Avid writer, coffee-drinker, art lover. Oh, and Editor-in-Chief for The Cauldron.