Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. Muslims believe that the Quran was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month, thus being prepared for gradual revelation by Jibraeel (Gabriel) to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell (Jahannam) would be closed. The first three days of the next month, Shawwal, is spent in celebrations and is observed as the “Festival of Breaking Fast” or Eid al-Fitr.
Many Muslims insist on the local physical sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of Ramadan, but others use the calculated time of the new moon or the Saudi Arabian declaration to determine the start of the month. Since the new moon is not in the same state at the same time globally, the beginning and ending dates of Ramadan depend on what lunar sightings are received in each respective location. As a result, Ramadan dates vary in different countries, but usually only by a day. This is due to the cycle of the moon. The moon travels the same path all year round and when the moon is seen in the east, it is then seen travelling towards the west. All the countries around the world see the moon within a 24-hour period once spotted by one country in the east.