Wednesday evening marks the beginning of the Muslim holy month, Ramadan. For the next month, 1.6 billion Muslims across the world will fast from sunrise to sunset.
However, despite popular belief, in the Arabic word for fasting-sawm- actually means to literally refrain. Which means that all healthy Muslims will be refraining from food, drink, sex, and all evil thoughts and deeds on the pursuit of self-purification while reciting and studying the Quran during the sunlight hours.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year within Islam, being the month that the Quran was revealed to Muhammad. Supposedly, the gates to heaven are open and the gates to hell are closed, and so, Muslims are instructed to fast in the Surat Al-Baqarah, the second and longest chapter of the Quran.
And so, the precise beginning of Ramadan will begin with the sighting of a slender crescent moon in the sky. Ramadan is expected to begin on the evening of June 17 or 18 and last 29 or 30 days depending on the length of the lunar month.