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5 Things to Know About the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Friday. Following terror attacks like the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert Monday night, many Americans might fear this month — and terrorist attacks do tend to spike during it — but Ramadan has nothing to do with terror.

Here are five things to know about the Muslim holy month, including whether or not non-Muslims should celebrate it, and a Muslim's response to the terror attacks that often come during this month.

1. One of five pillars.

The Islamic faith requires five key practices. Those are: reciting the declaration of faith, or shahada ("There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”); praying five times a day toward Mecca, or salat; giving alms to the poor, or zakāt; the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, or hajj; and fasting during the month of Ramadan, or sawm.

Fasting during Ramadan is therefore one of the most important requirements of Islam. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, lasting either 29 or 30 days, depending on when the new crescent moon is visible.

The Arabic term connotes intense heat and might have referred to a hot summer month, but in the Islamic calendar the timing varies from year to year.

During this holy month, able-bodied Muslims are expected to abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn until sunset each day. Many practicing Muslims also perform additional prayers.

Muslims believe that it was in the final ten nights of Ramadan that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.