What are the Ramadan fasting rules and can you drink water during the holy period?

MUSLIMS all over the world use Ramadan as a time for reflection, increased self-control and a devotion to prayer.

The devoted observing the holy month around the globe will be expected to fast. Read on to find out how the religious festival is observed.

Can you drink water during Ramadan?

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, so all adult Muslims are expected to fast.

Adult Muslims are also expected to read and reflect on the entire Koran, the holy book, while abstaining from smoking and sex.

It is thought abstaining from these activities will lead to greater "taqwa", or consciousness of God.

During daylight hours, you are not allowed to drink water.

But the NHS does recommend adults to break their fast if they do become very hydrated.

On their website they warn: "Poor hydration can be made worse by weather conditions and even everyday activities like walking to work or housework.

"If you produce very little or no urine, feel disoriented and confused or faint as a result of dehydration, you must stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid."

If a fast is broken, it will need to be compensated for by fasting at a later date. Or they can pay "fidyah", a religious term for donation of food or money.

Are children expected to fast?

Muslim children are expected to begin fasting once they have reached puberty, usually by the age of 14.

There is no national law that prevents young children or teens from fasting.

The NHS does advise against children as young as seven or eight fasting.

Advice from the national health body read: "It's a good idea to make children aware of what fasting involves and to practice fasting for a few hours at a time."

What are the fasting hours?

Ramadan shifts according to the movement of the moon.

Islamic Relief has formed a timetable with all the significant times Muslims in London must remember from the beginning of Ramadan – due to start on Sunday, May 5.

Muslims will be expected to abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset for 30 days.

Usually adults will have a meal just before dawn, and another after sunset.

At the end of the fast, when the sun has gone down, family and friends will get together for Iftar to break their fast.

The guide shows the time of sunrise (in London) and the time for Iftar.

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