When Is Ramadan 2017? Dates, Meaning of Muslim Fasting Month

Reuters/Mohamed al-SayaghiA man reads the Koran at the Grand Mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Sanaa, Yemen June 19, 2015

Every year, Muslims observe the religious festival known as Ramadan for a month by abstaining from any form of food and drink from dawn till dusk. This year, the Ramadan will be celebrated in the last week of May, and it is expected to last until the last week of June.

Non-Muslims will notice that the Ramadan seems to fall on a different cycle each year. This is due to the fact that the Islamic calendar is different from the more popular Gregorian calendar. While the Gregorian calendar is determined by the movement of the sun, the Islamic calendar relies on the moon's cycle. And since the two calendars do not align, the Islamic dates are pushed back by 11 days each year.

During this holy month, Muslims will refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse during the daytime, and may enjoy a feast of food in the evening. However, there are dedicated Muslims who will abstain from eating and drinking throughout the entire day, and it will only take a single puff of smoke from a cigarette or a tiny sip of water to invalidate their passionate efforts.

Abstaining from these comforts is believed to bring the religious followers of Islam closer to God, while also serving as a reminder of the sufferings that the less fortunate members of the community experience.

The Ramadan is also the time Muslims engage in intense prayers, usually five throughout the day. Other Muslims will even recite the holy book of Quran before sunset and prior to their evening feasts. Other Muslims will also generously donate money to charity or help feed the hungry as a way of sharing their immense blessings with the less fortunate. This is also the perfect time for Muslims to cut down on vices such as gossiping, swearing and fighting.

The holy month of Ramadan commemorates that day 1,400 years ago when the first verses of the holy book of Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Fasting during this month constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam, which also include the Muslim declaration of faith, the daily prayer, charity, and the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Eid al-Fitr, which will be held on Sunday, June 25, will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.