THE Islamic holy month of Ramadan kicked off on Thursday as Muslims across the world prepare to fast and reflect for 30 days.
But what does this really mean and what can those faithful to Islam can and cannot do?
Can you brush your teeth while fasting?
Maintaining good personal hygiene is important and most Muslims believe it’s fine to brush their teeth so long as you don’t swallow any toothpaste.
However, some prefer to clean their teeth with a finely-fibred miswak twig called a siwaak.
You can rinse your mouth with water – but if swallowed, the fast is invalidated
Are you not allowed to eat for a whole month?
Muslims must fast between sunrise and sunset every day during the month of Ramadan.
However, they are able to enjoy one meal "pre-dawn" and one after sunset each day.
Outside of daylight hours, food and drink can be enjoyed each day as normal.
Can you drink water?
Muslim are not able to drink water during sunlight hours.
This can prove challenging during the summer and warmer months.
What if you're unwell or pregnant?
Only those who are sane, healthy and have reached puberty are obliged to fast during Ramadan.
If someone is unwell they are advised to fast at a later date.
Women who are menstruating not fast during these days but can make those up at a later date.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can choose whether or not to observe the fast if they believe it could have an adverse effect on the baby.
Those who are unable to fast due to a medical condition must perform fidya – providing food to someone in need – during the festival to make up for not fasting.
Young children and the elderly are also not expected to fast.
Can you have sex?
You can’t have sex during the fasting period during daylight hours.
It is thought not eating during daylight hours, as well as not drinking, smoking or indulging in sex will lead to greater "taqwa" or consciousness of God.
The time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship is thought to teach followers how to be more self-disciplined and have empathy for those less fortunate.
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