World

Muslims around the world to mark start of Ramadan on Thursday with fasting, charity and prayer

  • Indonesian Muslim children carry torches during a parade marking Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Ramadan, the holy fasting month, is expected to begin on Thursday June, 18.  Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

    Indonesian Muslim children carry torches during a parade marking Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Ramadan, the holy fasting month, is expected to begin on Thursday June, 18. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Pakistani Muslim reads the Quran ahead of Ramadan at the 17th century Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Muslims throughout the world mark the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, with dawn to dusk fasting. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

    A Pakistani Muslim reads the Quran ahead of Ramadan at the 17th century Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Muslims throughout the world mark the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, with dawn to dusk fasting. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)  (The Associated Press)

  • Preparations are in progress for the upcoming Ramadan at the 17th century Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Muslims throughout the world mark the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, with dawn to dusk fasting. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

    Preparations are in progress for the upcoming Ramadan at the 17th century Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Muslims throughout the world mark the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, with dawn to dusk fasting. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)  (The Associated Press)

Muslims around the world will soon mark the start of Ramadan, a month of prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.

Religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia and elsewhere in the Muslim world have declared based on sightings of the moon that the lunar month, and thus the daily fasting, will begin Thursday.

Observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset for the entire month of Ramadan, with a single sip of water considered enough to invalidate the fast, one of the five pillars of Islam.

The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. Muslims break their fast with water and dates, followed by a meal with family and friends.