Muslims began observing the holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on various interpretations of sighting the new moon.
During Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from dawn to sunset without food or water. Before sunrise, many Muslims have a pre-dawn meal. At sunset, families and friends gather for iftar, the meal eaten to break the fast.
The fast emphasizes self-control and charity by using the experience of hunger to empathize with the poor. Muslim communities focus on donating money, food and clothing to the poor, and hold dinners for the less fortunate.
Muslims also believe Ramadan is the month God revealed the first verses of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, to the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran is recited in its entirety during nightly prayers over the course of the month.
The end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid ul-Fitr.