Beginning at puberty, all Muslims (with certain exceptions, such as if one is ill, traveling, pregnant, elderly, etc.) take part in the month-long dawn-to-sunset fast that is the hallmark of Ramadan. Muslims believe that fasting cleanses the body, and the practice reminds them of the suffering of the poor.
Eating and drinking (including water) is prohibited from dawn to sunset, and the day’s abstinence is offset by a pre-dawn meal called sehri and a nightly meal known as iftar. For iftar, many traditionally break the fast by first eating dates, as the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have done to break his fast. Foods traditionally served at iftar vary; one such dish is the Kurdish Hot-and-Spicy Red-Lentil Soup. Food is often shared with a poor family during Ramadan.