In photos: Muslims across Asia begin fasting for Ramadan
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In photos: Muslims across Asia begin fasting for Ramadan

MUSLIMS worldwide have begun observing the holy month of Ramadan – a time of spiritual reflection, charity and fasting from before dawn until after dusk.

Marked in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan commemorates the first verses of the Quran being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity during daylight hours for the entire month.

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Members of the moon sighting committee offer evening pryers as an officer of the Pakistan’s Meteorological Department (PMD) looks in telescope for the new moon that will mark the start of Ramadan, Karachi, Pakistan May 16, 2018. Source: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

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They are also expected to do good deeds and charity during Ramadan, and ensure to pray, attend the mosque and read the Quran.

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Women perform prayers on the evening of the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Darul Makmur Mosque in Singapore, May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Feline Lim

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and all adult Muslims are religiously obliged to do so unless they are sick, elderly, travelling, pregnant or menstruating.

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A man reads the Koran at a mosque on the first day of Ramadan in Peshawar, Pakistan May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

While Islam is often associated with the Middle East because many of the faith’s holiest sites are located there, Asia is in fact home to the majority of the world’s estimated 1.8 billion Muslims.

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A man carries out cleaning work at Jamia Masjid (Grand Mosque) ahead of Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Rawalpindi, Pakistan May 15, 2018. Source: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

More than 60 percent of the world’s Muslims live in Asia compared to just 20 percent in the Middle East and North Africa.

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A Muslim woman prepares her clothing for prayers at the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 16, 2018. Source: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

The top four countries with the largest Muslim populations are located in Asia: Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

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Indonesian Muslims pray at the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 16, 2018. Source: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

Still reeling from shocking terror attacks in the East Java city of Surabaya over the weekend, 225 million Muslims in the largest Muslim-majority nation on earth Indonesia will be praying for peace this Ramadan.

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India’s home ministry declared a ceasefire with rebels in the troubled Muslim-majority state of Kashmir during the holy month of India – the first time in nearly 20 years.

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A vendor sells vermicelli on the eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, outside the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India, May 16, 2018. Source: Reuters /Adnan Abidi

While observing the fast is supposed to make Muslims aware of the plight of the poor and bring them closer to God, eating is also a huge part of the month.

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A man arranges Iftar (breaking fast) meals inside a mosque on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Kolkata, India May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

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A vendor sells food for iftar on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at a traditional food market in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

Most Islamic cultures prepare special dishes for Iftar (the breaking of the fast meal) each evening.

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Volunteers prepare food for iftar on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Darul Makmur Mosque in Singapore, May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Feline Lim

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Women break fast on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Darul Makmur Mosque in Singapore, May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Feline Lim

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A man arranges food plates for breaking fast on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan May 17, 2018. Source: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

Muslims commonly greet each other with “Ramadan Mubarak” during the holy month, meaning “have a blessed Ramadan”.

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A Muslim girl attends prayers at the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 16, 2018. Source: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

Ramadan is expected to end on the evening of June 15. Ramadan Mubarak!