SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thursday marks the first full day of Ramadan, a holy month for the Muslim community.

22News spoke with an Islamic Scholar who outlined several principals including fasting, prayer and charity. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, also called the Lunar calendar, and considered one of the most blessed months of the year. Muslims honor the month by fasting from before dawn to sunset, praying for an hour and a half a day where the Koran is read, and donating or performing acts of charity.

Mirza Yawar Baig of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts told 22News, “Charity is a part of our creed. We are directed to give two and half percent of our savings annually in charity. In addition to that, as much as we can and people do give a lot, a lot in charity, so Ramadan is also about that.”

To be supportive of your Muslim friends and colleagues during this time, it’s important to give them the space and time they need to pray, which is usually done five times a day.

Ramadan runs until the evening of Thursday, April 20th this year and at that point, members of the Muslim community gather for prayer and celebration.