How Ramadan Works

By: Allison Klein  | 
Children carry torches to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan, a time of fasting and prayer for Muslims. Oscar Siagian/Getty Images

Every year, more than one billion Muslims around the globe observe the importance of the month of Ramadan. This time of the year is a time for reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims show their devotion to God by fasting, or abstaining from food.

Many religions encourage some kind of fasting for religious purposes. For instance, Catholics give up meat for Lent and Jews fast during the holiday of Yom Kippur. For Muslims, fasting is a very important component of Islam. The benefits of fasting for Ramadan are numerous. The most important, though, is the idea that through the self-control of fasting one can pay special attention to their spiritual nature.


Ramadan is an important time for Muslims, not simply because it helps develop a closer relationship with God, but also because Ramadan is a time to think about those who are less fortunate. Another goal of fasting for Ramadan is to experience hunger in sympathy for those without food. It is a way that many Muslims learn thankfulness and appreciation for what they have.

In this article, we will examine the meaning of Ramadan, the tradition of fasting, how the time of Ramadan is determined, Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) and the benefits of observing the holiday.