Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year, was the month in which the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, received his first divine revelation from the Angel Gabriel. For this reason it was chosen by the Prophet as a month of fasting, a time in which every Muslim could "cultivate piety".
Throughout the month, fasting and abstinence begin at sunrise and last until sunset. No food or water may pass the Muslim's lips during the hours of daylight, neither may the Muslim engage in sexual intercourse. (Smoking is also prohibited.)
During Ramadan, Muslims are exhorted to read the whole of the Holy Qur'an. The "Night of Ordainment", the night during which Muhammad received his first revelation, falls towards the end of Ramadan. On this night, the Holy Qur'an tells Muslims that Allah sets the course of the world and all human affairs for the coming year.
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