The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on Tuesday amid restrictions on communal prayers and fasting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Muslims across the world will be observing fasting during which they abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn until sunset.

Many countries have allowed communal prayers with strict social distancing rules in contrast to the empty mosques a year ago when Islam’s holiest month coincided with the spike in coronavirus infections.

Ramadan, which changes each year depending on the sighting of the moon, began this year on April 13.

For Muslims, Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The breaking of the fast each day is called the “Iftar”, when families and communities gather to feast together. The meal starts with the eating of a single date, a tradition that originated with the Prophet Muhammad.

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