Is reading the Qur'an significant during Ramadan? What else happens during this month?
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole chapter of the Qur'an (Juz, which is 1/30 of the Qur'an) is recited. Typically a hafiz, someone who has memorized the Qur'an, will lead this prayer and recite one chapter every night during prayers that physically resemble the motions of Muslims' five daily prayers. Therefore, the entire Qur'an would be completed at the end of the month.
Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involving the preparing of special foods and inviting people for iftar.
In many Muslim and non-Muslim countries with large Muslim populations, markets close down in the evening to enable people to perform prayers and consume the iftar meal—these markets then re-open and stay open for a good part of the night. Muslims can be seen shopping, eating, and spending time with their friends and family during the evening hours.
Are there any days or nights that are particularly important during Ramadan?
Sometimes referred to as "the night of decree or measures," Laylat al-Qadr, also known as Shab-e-Qadr, is considered the most holy night of the year during the month of Ramadan, as it is the night in which the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad. Muslims believe it to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th (in Sunni thought) or the 19th, 21st or 23rd (in Shi'a thought).
Since Laylat al-Qadr could be any one of the odd nights during the last ten days of Ramadan, those are particularly good times for worship and prayer. However, concentrated prayer and worship are recommended during the entire month—not just during the last ten days.
Is there a holiday at the end of Ramadan? What do Muslims do on that holiday for fun?
The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast, and it is a very special celebration—one of two holidays for Muslims. Money is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr); everyone puts on their best (usually new) clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. Many Muslim families decorate their houses and give gifts to their children. The Eid prayer is two Raka'ahs only, and it is an optional (mustahabb) prayer as opposed to the compulsory five daily prayers. Muslims are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.
Have more questions? Send them to Dilshad D. Ali, the Managing Editor of Patheos' Muslim Portal.
Adapted from OnePakistan, with additions made by Dilshad D. Ali.