Since last Monday, Irish Muslims have been celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, a period of abstaining from food, water, and bad behavior for thirty days.

Ramadan is a test, set by Allah, and "an opportunity to go nearer to God and praise him," Khurrum Khan of Co. Meath told the Irish Times.

“There are hundreds of benefits to fasting in this month,” he said.

“It is not just about the fast. I am more spiritual and am doing more good deeds during this time than other months.”

He said he wakes up at around 3:15 am for a small predawn meal called sohour and then fasts for 18 hours, from dawn to dusk. He won't eat again until around 9:20 pm, when the fast is broken with a meal known as Iftar, which often begins with a glass of milk and some dates.

Mia-manan Hameed, who runs a popular restaurant, a food-importing business and a mosque in Dublin city center, said that when he was a boy at school in Dublin, he was teased for fasting. His children are having a very different experience in a country which now has a 45,000-strong Muslim population.

“It’s great to see how things have changed and how this country has become more diverse. My children’s generation are more accepting of different traditions. One Catholic friend of my daughter wanted to try it just to see what it was like, but I don’t think her mother was very keen."