Muslims in Singapore to mark start of Ramadan on May 17

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Ramadan is the holy month when Muslims observe mandatory fast and strive to make thawab (good deeds earning Divine rewards). The Kingdom and other Muslim nations, like Indonesia, declared Ramadan would not begin on Wednesday based on the observations by moon-sighting committees.

As Saudi Arabia announced that Thursday would be the first day of Ramadan, it is expected that many Muslims living in the United States will start fasting on Thursday.

The pre-dawn meal earlier than the quick known as the suhur, whereas the meal at sundown that breaks the quick is the iftar.

Both public and private sector companies will have shorter work hours for the duration of Ramadan as many employees are fasting.

Fasting is seen as a way to become closer to God through a detachment from material pleasures.

"When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained".

As the holy month approaches, the Sultan urged Nigerian Muslims to pray for the country and utilize the benefits and blessings of the holy month.

Muslims all around the world are ready to welcome the holy month of Ramadan which begins Tuesday evening in Turkey. It falls in the 9th month of the Muslim year during which all those in faith fast from dawn to dusk. North African countries and those in the Middle East will also begin the fast on Thursday.

And after a month of fasting, reflection and charity, there's a huge celebration: Eid.

Others who may not fast include pregnant or lactating women whose babies may be harmed, women in their menstrual period or having postpartum bleeding and others in situations that require them to be in their best physical condition (i.e. soldiers on guard duty).

"Tonight is the 29 of Shaban", said Atthar Mahmood, vice-president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

What are the different traditions observed during Ramadan?

Muslims believe that Allah gave the first verses of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed during the month in 610.

The month-long observance is a time to fast, to think and to spend time with friends and family. This time of year, observant Muslims here would have to eat before 3:40 a.m. Exceptions are made for people for health or medical reasons.

Taraweeh is the special prayer held post Isha'a namaz on every night of Ramadan, when the entire Quran is narrated in divided portions over the next 27 days.