The breaking of the fast (iftar) everyday is also an institution of great importance. All Muslims are keen to share their iftar with others. It brings together the rich and the poor, the people of a locality with the passing visitors.
All over England, in local mosques, individuals share the iftar everyday. In large mosques such as that which houses the Ka'ba and the mosque of the Prophet in Madina, this type of iftar is not possible; but thousands of people bring their individual iftar with them sharing it with those around them.
During Ramadhan, there are certain rues and regulations that need to be fulfilled in order to gain maximum benefit spiritually. Besides the physical aspect of refraining from eating and drinking, other moral and spiritual aspects are recommended to be observed.
Laylatul Qadr - The night of decree
One of the odd nights out of the last ten days of the month of Ramadhan (from the 20th to the 30th) is the night of decree. It is the night in which the Qur'an was sent down and as the verse of the Qur'an (97:3) says - The night of decree is better than a thousand months.
Because, of this Muslims, young and old try their best to keep awake throughout the night in remembrance of God and asking for forgiveness.
Some Muslims give up all worldly activities except those which are necessary in the last ten nights and days.
Some Muslims stay in the mosque as the Prophet did for these ten days. The staying is optional and is called I'tikaaf.
When the new moon is sighted and the month of fasting (Ramadhan) comes to an end, the first of the new month (Shawwal) is the day of Eid ul Fitr. 'Fitr' means to break and it is called thus as God has permitted the breaking of the fast on this day.
It is also a 'festival of charity'. It is incumbent upon all Muslims to begin the day by paying Zakat ul Fitr - a special religious tax. This is paid before the prayers. It is an act of worship just as important as the prayers.
The special Eid congregational prayer consists of a brief two unit prayer followed by a sermon.
After the prayers, it is the norm to visit relatives and friends, exchanging greetings.
Culture dictates the food that is prepared for Eid. However, in many parts of the Muslim world a special kind of sweet is prepared with thin vermicelli. It is said (no religious reason) that it was to signify harmony and unity amongst Muslims. The strands of vermicelli despite the diversity of size, colour and thickness all intertwined.