Muslims around the world mark beginning of holy month of Ramadan
The holy month of Ramadan, which began this year at sundown on Wednesday, is the month during which Muslims are obligated to fast and the holy book of Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The beginning of Islamic months are determined by both lunar calculations and physical sightings of a new moon.
One of the main rituals of Islam, fasting is obligatory for all Muslims. The practice is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, and reflection.
A fasting Muslim must abstain from certain activities, most notably eating and drinking, from dawn to dusk, which continues for a whole month.
Fasting, which is an obligation in various religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. has numerous physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
The fast is one of the main pillars of Islam and is required for all Muslims, though exceptions are made for young children, those who are ill and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. Travelers are also exempt, including athletes attending tournaments away from home.
The start of the month depends on the sighting of the crescent moon by local religious authorities and astronomers, and can sometimes vary from country to country. But this year there was broad agreement that it began Wednesday evening, with Thursday declared as the first day of fasting.