(17 PHOTOS INSIDE) – Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding. All Muslims observe fasting (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. While fasting, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations with one’s spouse. Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to improve self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).