See how Muslims around the world heralded their holiest month: The Picture Show: NPR


Istanbul, Turkey: Muslim worshipers perform a night prayer called ‘tarawih’ on the eve of the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Hagia Sophia Mosque on Friday, April 1, 2022.

Emrah Gurel / AP


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Emrah Gurel / AP


Istanbul, Turkey: Muslim worshipers perform a night prayer called ‘tarawih’ on the eve of the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Hagia Sophia Mosque on Friday, April 1, 2022.

Emrah Gurel / AP

Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, began this weekend for the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. From sun up to sunset, the physically skilled among them will fast – and abstain not just from food, but also as much as a sip of water.

While it is easy to think of Ramadan as a holiday, it is not. Muslims go to work and school and continue their daily lives.


Podgorica, Montenegro: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer in Ramadan.

Milos Vujovic / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Podgorica, Montenegro: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer in Ramadan.

Milos Vujovic / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Moscow, Russia: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer in Ramadan at the Central Mosque.

Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Moscow, Russia: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer in Ramadan at the Central Mosque.

Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Gaza by, Gaza by: This long exposure image shows Palestinians standing next to the lantern known in Arabic as “Fanous Ramadan” on the first day of the beginning of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images


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Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images


Gaza by, Gaza by: This long exposure image shows Palestinians standing next to the lantern known in Arabic as “Fanous Ramadan” on the first day of the beginning of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images


Peshawar, Pakistan: A man tries on a traditional cap in preparation for Ramadan.

Muhammad Sajjad / AP


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Muhammad Sajjad / AP


Peshawar, Pakistan: A man tries on a traditional cap in preparation for Ramadan.

Muhammad Sajjad / AP

In that sense, the true purpose of the month is discipline and dedication. Fasting extends to more than food. Muslims are expected to practice how to avoid unclean thoughts and deeds.

Ramadan provides a constant physical reminder of God, as well as a reminder of all the people in the world who do not have enough food or water. “It creates a momentum of both gratitude and charity,” said Adeel Zeb – Muslim pastor at The Claremont Colleges – in an interview with NPR in 2017.


New Delhi, India: Muslims pray Friday prayer in the Jama Masjid ahead of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Sonu Mehta / Hindustan Times via Getty Images


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New Delhi, India: Muslims pray Friday prayer in the Jama Masjid ahead of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Sonu Mehta / Hindustan Times via Getty Images


Istanbul, Turkey: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer during Ramadan at the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.

Ali Atmaca / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Istanbul, Turkey: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer during Ramadan at the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.

Ali Atmaca / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The month is centered on charity, worship and the development of empathy and connection to others. But there is also a strong common aspect, which is an essential part of the experience.

But in the last two years, when a pandemic raged, the coronavirus did away with many of these rituals. Gone were the big group dinners, the visits to the mosques, the early morning runs to IHOP to get pancakes before Lent begins – along with so many other beloved aspects of the month.

This year, many Muslims plan to resume the nightly gatherings, Iftar, where they can break their day-long fast together. Many also look forward to the common tarawih prayers that follow after fasting.


Moscow, Russia: Muslims perform first tarawih prayer in Ramadan at the Central Mosque.

Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Moscow, Russia: Muslims perform first tarawih prayer in Ramadan at the Central Mosque.

Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Tangerang, Indonesia: Children bathe in the Cisadane River on the first night of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Tatan Syuflana / AP


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Tangerang, Indonesia: Children bathe in the Cisadane River on the first night of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Tatan Syuflana / AP


Pristina, Kosovo: Muslims gather to perform the first tarawih prayer during Ramadan.

Erkin Keci / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Pristina, Kosovo: Muslims gather to perform the first tarawih prayer during Ramadan.

Erkin Keci / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

This is welcome news for followers like Rizwan Ali. “The worst thing is just to miss people, honestly,” Ali, the imam from the Islamic Center of Naperville, Illinois, told NPR in 2020. “I said that after I prepared for the prayers, I made wudu. [cleansing the body before prayers] in my house. And I was, as you know, I never thought I would miss the long queues in the mosque to make wudu and prepare for prayer. Well, those are the little things you miss – the smiles, the faces. I can close my eyes and tell you where each person is sitting. And I miss all the little experiences now. “


Hyderabad, Pakistan: Pakistani men make traditional sweets in a market to be exhibited for sale before Ramadan.

Pervaiz Masih / AP


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Pervaiz Masih / AP


Hyderabad, Pakistan: Pakistani men make traditional sweets in a market to be exhibited for sale before Ramadan.

Pervaiz Masih / AP


Ankara, Turkey: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer in Ramadan.

Muhammed Yaylali / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Ankara, Turkey: Muslims perform the first tarawih prayer in Ramadan.

Muhammed Yaylali / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ramadan is a month in which Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur’an, the sacred text of Islam, to the Prophet Muhammad. It officially begins with the first observation of the waxing crescent after the new moon, leading to different countries declaring its start a day or two apart. For most countries this year, it started Friday night.

The month ends with Eid al-Fitr – a three-day celebration, a time to eat and drink and rejoice after a month of fasting and long nights of worship.


Washington DC: Muslims gather to perform the first tarawih prayer during Ramadan.

Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Washington DC: Muslims gather to perform the first tarawih prayer during Ramadan.

Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Jerusalem, Israel: A Palestinian man hangs decorative candles in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Mahmoud Illean / AP


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Mahmoud Illean / AP


Jerusalem, Israel: A Palestinian man hangs decorative candles in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Mahmoud Illean / AP

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