Ramadan the ninth month in the Mohammedan year. In it Mohammed received his first revelation, and every believer is therefore enjoined to keep a strict fast throughout its entire course, from the dawn — when a white thread call be distinguished from a black thread — to sunset. Eating, drinking, smoking, bathing, smelling perfumes, and other bodily enjoyments, even swallowing one's spittle, are strictly prohibited during that period. Even when obliged to take medicine, the Aloslem must make some kind of amends for it, such as spending a certain sum of money upon the poor. During the night, however, the most necessary wants may be satisfied — a permission which, practically, is interpreted by a profuse indulgence in all sorts of enjoyments.
The fast of Ramadan, now much less observed than in former times, is sometimes a very severe affliction upon the orthodox, particularly when the month — the year being lunar — happens to fall in the long and hot days of midsummer. The sick, travellers, and soldiers in time of war, are temporarily released from this duty, but they have to fast an equal number of days at a subsequent period, when this impediment is removed. Nurses, pregnant women, and those to whom it might prove really injurious, are expressly exempt from fasting. We may add that according to some traditions (Al-Beidlihwi), not only Mohammed, but also Abraham, Moses, and Jesus received their respective revelations during this month. The principal passages treating of the fast of Ramadan are found in the second Surah of the Koran, called "The Cow." See Wellsted, City of the Calilphs, ii, 245.