The month of Ramadan has arrived in some parts of the world, while others are expected to begin their fast on 12 April.
Ramadan begins when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, though sighting vary across countries.
During this month, almost all practising adult Muslims will fast from sunrise until sunset and put increased importance on daily prayers (the Salat).
As Ramadan begins in spring, the days grow longer as the month progresses, so fasting periods increase as the celebration of Eid approaches.
Here is the fasting and prayer timetable for Ramadan 2021, and when the month falls this year.
When is Ramadan 2021?
This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on the evening of Monday 12 April in the UK, and will end on the evening of Monday 12 May.
Ramadan lasts between 29 and 30 days. The exact start date shifts slightly every year due to the observance of the lunar calendar, meaning celebrations fall around 11 days earlier each year.
How is Ramadan observed?
The holy month is a time of reflection and purification, so Muslims focus on prayer and fasting during Ramadan, with the Salat (daily prayers) of key importance.
The daily prayers also coincide with the hours of the fast, as Muslims Suhoor, the pre-fast meal, before sunrise and then finish the meal with the day’s first prayer, the Fajr.
The fast isn’t broken until sunset with the Iftar meal, which is eaten before the Maghrib, the fourth prayer of the day.
The month of Ramadan is nearly here, and will begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Fajr: observed before sunrise
Zuhr: observed after noon
Asr: observed in late afternoon
Maghrib: observed after sunset
Isha: observed at night
Who participates in fasting?
All practising Muslims who have reached puberty are expected to fast during Ramadan. However, there are some exceptions, including menstruating or pregnant women and people who are unwell or have an illness.
The fasting period begins and ends at different times each day, as the period between sunrise and sunset changes throughout Ramadan.
The strict rules include abstinence from food and drink, including water, during daylight hours for the entire month. Smoking, sex and masturbation are also prohibited.
What is the timetable for fasting in 2021?
Some Muslim congregations and communities will follow the dates from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, while many of the 2.5 million Muslims in the UK will wait for the first confirmed sightings of the moon here.
As Islam is a faith followed by 1.8 billion people globally, the sighting of the new moon will vary from location to location and not all Muslims will break fast at exactly the same time.
In the UK, the times are predicted to be as follows:
(Times may vary depending on where in the UK you are situated and this timetable is only an estimate.)
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This year, Eid al-Fitr - also known as 'The Feast of Breaking the Fast' - will begin on the evening Wednesday 12 May and end on 13 May.
Will Mosques be open for prayer during Ramadan 2021?
In 2020, mosques were forced to close to the public during Ramadan due to coronavirus restrictions.
Therefore, it will be welcome news that Muslims in England will be able to attend their local mosque to participate in prayers, as long as they adhere to rules like remaining two metres away from each other, and not sharing items like religious books or prayer mats.
The government in Wales, however, has asked religious leaders to find alternative ways of worshipping, like video gatherings.
Scottish Mosques can also reopen for socially distanced prayer from 26 March.
However, Eid will look considerably different than usual again this year as no part of the UK is expected to reintroduce indoor private gatherings by 12 May.