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Ramadan is the holy month in Islam, which is when all Islam followers must fast for 30 or 29 days. The length of the holy month is decided according to the new crescent moon’s appearance as all the months of the Hijri Lunar calendar begin and end with. The fasting is from dawn to sunset every day.
The fasting duration depends on the geographic location of the country that the Muslim lives in and their home’s distance from the equator. For example, the daily fasting duration in Indonesia would be about 12 hours, while in Scandinavian countries would be about 17 hours.
Fasting Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are the Shahada (Islamic creed), the Salah (the 5 daily prayers) ,Zakat (Alms), Sawm (Fasting the month of Ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Some Islamic scholars have approved the technological methods of moon observing by modern telescopes, while others say it must be seen with a naked eye. Also, other scholars have approved the pre-calculated calendar based on astronomy science. In most cases the Muslims follow the government declaration on the observing day, or in non-Islamic majority countries they follow the announcement of the official Islamic organizations.
Due to the large area of the Islamic world in different countries from Indonesia on the Far East to Morocco in the West, there is a difference in Ramadan’s starting by a day or two days, as the moon can’t be observed during the daylight.
Before dawn Muslims prefer to eat a predawn meal (Suhoor) before fasting to support the body with energy during the long fasting day. In some cultures this meal is heavy, while in others it is a light meal, while, according to some health websites, it’s advisable to have a light Suhoor similar to the breakfast meal on non-Ramadan days.
Most Muslims prefer to break the fasting (Iftar) at sunset with a few dates followed by a cold drink. Traditionally, in Palestine and the Levant countries the cold drink would be Tamarind or Qamar Eddeen, which is a drink made of a dry apricot. In Indonesia and Asian countries they start the Iftar with the Cendol drink, which is coconut milk with rice, pandan leaves, shaved ice and palm sugar
Every Islamic nation has some traditional dishes, drinks, and desert that are served during Ramadan more than other months around the year. The most popular deserts in Levant and Turkey during Ramadan are Qatayef , Kanafeh and Baklava. The Qatayef is a sweet dumpling filed with nuts, cheese or cream and Kanafeh is pastry soaked in sweet syrup, while Baklava is a sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
The best greeting for your Muslim friends and colleagues is to say ‘Ramadan Kareem’ which means “Ramadan is generous,” this year the holy month will start either on the 20 or 21 of July.