The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan ends on Saturday. For Muslims, fasting, which takes place in the ninth month of each Islamic lunar year, is one of the five pillars of their religion.
Along with the pilgrimage to Mecca, daily prayer times, the profession of faith in Allah as the only God, and almsgiving, fasting is a basic component of Islam. Once a year, Muslims worldwide go without water and food every day for a month; until sunset. The end of Ramadan is followed by the three-day festival of breaking the fast, Arabic 'Id al Fitr.
Fasting is meant to show that religion has a higher value than daily life. Ramadan is also the month of charity and good deeds. The beginning of the fasting month depends on the time of the appearance of the new crescent moon. The major Islamic associations in Germany have agreed on a common time frame. The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan began on 27. May.
According to Islamic tradition, Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Koran by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed.
Between the start of dawn and sunset, Muslims are forbidden to eat, drink, smoke and have sexual intercourse. The Iftar, the festive dinner, marks the end of fasting each day. Often the faithful also meet in the evenings to pray together or recite suras of the Koran at home.
Only travelers, pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, the sick and the elderly are excluded from the fasting requirement. Religiously motivated fasting is not only a Muslim phenomenon. Here's how Christians observe a 40-day fast before Easter.
Members of the Eastern churches observe four fasting periods during the church year. Buddhism also has a fasting tradition.
Congratulations from the Federal President
In a message marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for more togetherness between religions. The joy of breaking the fast "should unite us even more across the borders of our religions," Steinmeier said in Berlin.
"Muslims, Jews and Christians not only share the joy of fellowship, they also share a belief in a merciful God," the German president said.