Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the most important month for Muslims as its observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. During the whole month, strict fasting is observed, with no water or food allowed during the hours of daylight.
Muslims are required to devote more time and attention to prayer during Ramadan, as well as reading the Quran, donating to charity and doing good deeds.
Russian Muslims, like Muslims in the rest of the world, await the month of Ramadan with impatience. More than 23 million Russian Muslims perform the rituals prescribed for this holy month. With more than 8,000 mosques in the country, Russian Muslims visit mosques to perform prayers.
There are five main mosques in Moscow and all the Islamic rituals are performed there; the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, sounds five times each day and there is a service performed exclusively during Ramadan.
Russian Muslims live in a non-Muslim society and their lives are affected by this in many ways. Despite this, they adhere to their religion and use the opportunities provided by Ramadan to strengthen the foundations of their religion and culture in their hearts.
The special atmosphere of Ramadan also leads some non-Muslims to convert to Islam.
The main rituals of Ramadan for Russians begin with gathering at the table during the Iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims break their daily fast at sunset. They then move on to prayer. The main mosques read the Koran for a month.
Russian Muslims also perform Tarawih, prayers performed only during Ramadan. This act of worship is considered very important for the unification of Muslims. A Muslim performing Tarawih feels they are a member of a community and it affirms their sense of religion and faith.
Many Muslims invite each other to have Iftar together and tables for Iftar next to the mosques are organised by charities.
For the Russian people and Russia as a whole, the Ramadan period is no different from the rest of the year.