Which Countries Observe Ramadan?

While Muslim communities in any country, including Russia, China and the United States, are likely to observe the fasting and abstinence month of Ramadan, the following countries with an Islamic majority tend to do so more widely: Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritania, Tunisia, Algeria, Somalia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Since the timing for the commencement of Ramadan is taken from the moon phase and visibility, the dates and length of this month vary, not only from year to year but from region to region as well.

In any case, it generally lasts between 29 to 30 days and fasting applies to all Muslims who have reached puberty. During Ramadan, it is forbidden by scripture and, in some countries, law, to consume food or drink, have sex, smoke or chew gum during daylight hours.

At sunset each day, a time known during Ramadan as "iftar," observant Muslims are permitted to break their fast. Ramadan concludes with the 3-day festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Despite the abstemious and disciplined nature of Ramadan, it is also a time of celebration, characterized by fireworks and lively night-time socializing with family and friends.

The Ramadan fast, or "sawm," is one of the critical observances (or Five Pillars) for Muslims, alongside "Shahadah" (a declaration of Allah's greatness), "Salat" (daily prayers), "Zakat" (charity tax for the poor) and "Hajj" (pilgrimage to Mecca).