Fasting during Ramadan is much different than any other religious fasting that I know of. As mentioned, we fast from dawn until sunset for a month, which this time of year means roughly from 4:30am until 7:15pm.
During this time we do not eat anything, drink anything (including water), smoke, have sexual contact, or indulge in anything that is ill-natured or in excess. Fasting is meant to teach us patience, modesty and spirituality. During this time we ask forgiveness for our sins and pray for guidance. By refraining from everyday evils we try to better ourselves through self-restraint and good deeds. During Ramadan we also offer more prayer than usual. It is not uncommon for Muslims to stay up all night either at home or in the Mosque praying and reading the Quran.
Ramadan is a time of reflecting and worshiping God. Not only does the fast include physically refraining from the things mentioned above, but also requires the avoidance of obscene thoughts and sights. Purity of both thought and action is important.
The fast is a deep personal worship in which we seek a raised awareness and closeness to God. The act of fasting is to put aside worldly activities and to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. Fasting allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity.
Ramadan is a time to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment, establishing a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Giving to the poor and needy is common practice.
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some
Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, which are held in the mosques every night of Ramadan, during which 1/30 of the Qur'an is recited; therefore, the entire Qur'an would be completed at the end of the month.