Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and followers of Islam all over the world mark it by fasting from dawn to dusk throughout the holy month.The month is significant for Muslims as the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during this time. For the same reason, Ramadan is also known as month of the Qur’an.Readings of the holy book increase during this month. Fasting is obligatory for every Muslim except for the one who is sick or are on a journey.The Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It (Ramadan) is the month, whose beginning is mercy, its middle, forgiveness and its end, emancipation from the fire (of hell).” (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol 93, Pg: 342)The start of Ramadan is dependent on the sighting of the moon as the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle. As a consequence, the beginning of the holy month shifts about 11 days every year.‘Ramadan Mubarak’ and ‘Ramadan Kareem’ are two of the phrases which Muslims use to greet each other to mark the month. The purpose of fasting is for the observers to become closer with Allah. They abstain from food, drinks and other prohibited activities during their fast in order to increase their spirituality.During Ramadan there is a greater emphasis on the five daily prayers – Fajr (morning), Zhuhur (midday), Asr (late afternoon), Maghrib (evening) and Isha (night) – and a voluntary prayer, Taraweeh (late night) which becomes part of the daily routine. Fasting remains the main focus during Ramadan. It begins with a pre-dawn meal called ‘Suhur’ and is concluded with the call for the evening prayer with a meal known as ‘Iftar’. The platter for ‘Iftar’ ranges from a few dates to a lavish spread, depending upon the local customs and food preferences.Although fasting is meant for all Muslims who have reached puberty, exceptions are made for pregnant women, the elderly and physically ill. However, some children choose to fast in preparation for later years.There are three Ashra’s of Ramadan with separate prayer for each.The word Ashra is an Arabic word meaning ten.The first Ashra is from 1 to 10 Ramadan, second Ashra is from 11 to 20 Ramadan, while the third one is from 21 to 30 Ramadan.According to a narration, Almighty Allah has divided Ramadan in three parts the first ten days reflect the mercy of Almighty Allah; the other ten days represent forgiveness of Almighty Allah, while the last ten days represent safety from the fire of Hell.The holy month of Ramadan is divided into three parts:Rahmat: “Mercy of Allah”Maghfirat: “Forgiveness of Allah”Nijaat: “Salvation”Although the complete month of Ramadan is a blessed one and it overflows with Grace and Mercy. A Muslim is also blessed with a night “Lail-tul-Qadr” which is better than thousand months. Lail-tul-Qadr also falls in the last Ashra. Most of the Muslims also practice Itikaf in the last ten days.The daily life of Muslims changes during this month and most Middle East countries make special arrangements to facilitate the fasting of their citizens. Office hours are reduced and most eateries shut shop during the fasting hours. Charity is an obligation on Muslims and it also gains more significance during Ramadan.It is incumbent upon all Muslims, who meet the necessary criteria, to give zakat – 2.5 per cent of their savings in charity. The zakat is supposed to be given before the end of Ramadan.The end of Ramadan, which is also the first day of the month of Shawwal, is celebrated as Eid-Ul-Fitr. On this day, the faithful congregate for a morning prayer at an ‘Eidgah’ a designated place for Eid prayers, before the feasting begins at their homes.Eid-Ul-Fitr is a one day celebration. Special cuisines are prepared to mark the day, as friends and relatives dressed at their best. Eid gifts, known as Eidi are commonly given to the children.