The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is meant to be a time of spiritual rejuvenation and deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God. During the entire month, Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Qur’an and fast every day from dawn to sunset.

Those unable to fast, such as pregnant or nursing women, the sick, or elderly people and children, are exempt from fasting.

The purpose of fasting is to develop God-consciousness. Muslims abstain from the things that people naturally desire: food, liquids, and sexual intimacy. They are especially careful to avoid things that are always sinful and immoral. While maintaining this spiritual discipline, they also increase acts of worship such as prayer, reading and study of the Qur’an, and giving charity.

In 2020, Ramadan will begin approximately on April 24. Because the lunar calendar is shorter than the solar (Gregorian) calendar, Ramadan comes about ten days earlier every year, and cycles through the seasons.


  • During Ramadan Muslims get up before dawn and eat a small meal.
  • During the day, Muslims typically do their usual work. However, they increase time spent reading Qur’an, praying, and striving to do good deeds.
  • At sunset they break the fast with a very light meal, pray, and usually get together with friends and family for dinner. Many go to the mosques for the night prayer and a special prayer called Taraweeh.
NOTE FOR RAMADAN 2020 (Ramadan 1441): The need to maintain social distance due to COVID-19 means that Muslims will not be able to congregate in the mosques during Ramadan as they normally would. They will also not be able to eat in the large groups that are typical of this month. The Muslim community in Philadelphia is cooperating to make sure that all Muslims have something to eat at sunset and that they do not feel isolated because of this situation. The most important aspect of Ramadan, increasing God-consciousness, can be attained despite social distancing limitations. In fact, in many ways, Muslims may find this to be an opportunity for great spiritual growth. As long as they endure this trial patiently, Muslims believe that they will have a special reward from God.

The Qur’an states: “O you who believe! Seek My help through patience and prayer: surely, Allah is with those who are patient.” [Qur’an (2):153]