Muslims believe that Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down and it occurred in the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. Ramadan itself begins with the sighting of the new moon after which all adult Muslims are expected to abstain from vices including food, drink, gum chewing, tobacco, and sexual contact between dawn and sunset. The spiritual aspects of the fast include refraining from gossiping, lying, slandering and all traits of bad character. All obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of thought and action is paramount as this is an act of personal worship.
Technically, the fast begins each day at dawn, which for Muslims comes nearly two hours before sunrise. Sunrise marks the end of the first period of prayer. Dawn is reckoned as the time when the sun's first light is seen on the horizon, or, ‘when a white cord may be distinguished from a black cord’. Traditionally, the fast is broken with a bowl of soup and a special salad (Fattoush) but the evening breakfast ('Iftar) is often an opportunity for socialising and praying which may go on late into the night.
The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends. The fasting is intended to help reinforce self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity in practicing Muslims. It also reminds followers of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well.