Ramadhan: The Muslim Holy Month
I've noticed that in the Western World, there's a lot of confusion about Islam & its traditions. So I wanted to share my experience, understanding & perception of Ramadhan with you here:
In 2011, Ramadhan will take place from approx. Aug. 1st until Aug. 29th.
For over 1 billion Muslims throughout the world, Ramadhan is the 9th lunar month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It was the month in which the 1st verses of the holy Qur'an were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH = Peace be upon Him). It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control:
-- Restraining the stomach from food & drink & the "private parts" from temptation.
-- Restraining other body parts: the tongue must avoid bad-mouthing, insult & lies; the eyes should avoid looking into things considered as unlawful or haram; the ears must stop from listening to conversation or songs that spoil the spirit of fasting.
-- Restraining heart & mind from indulging themselves in things other than Allah.
There are also clear rules about who is exempt from fasting:
> Children (before reaching puberty) & Pregnant & nursing women
> Women having their menstrual period
> Travelling people
> People performing hard, physical labour (especially outdoors)
> Sick people (diabetics, flu, etc.)
> Elderly people
> People on medication or who have a disability (physical or mental)
Muslims who were unable to fast may redeem their fast after Ramadhan has finished.
IFTAAR is to "break the fast" = breakfast.
This is done when the sunset prayer "maghreb" is heard. After breaking the fast (recommended are fresh dates & water or camel milk or Laban (drink yoghurt), they perform "vudoo" (=ritual washing before prayer), then pray and may then eat & drink a full meal.
Before the sunrise prayer "sohur", Muslims rise early from their beds to have a hearty meal before the day of fast begins. You will notice that many gather in typical Ramadhan tents, either as part of hotel restaurants, or in a tent in front of their residence. They sit together for many hours, spend time with the family & discuss matters of life.
The sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadhan proclaims the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. (2-3 days public holiday).
Gifts are exchanged, especially for children (new clothes, school items, etc.) This is also the time that Muslim women usually visit beauty salons to have their hands & feet painted with "Hennah". Sometimes I go together with my mother (she is Muslim).
TIP: To wish someone a happy Ramadhan, say Ramadhan Kareem.
The greeting during Eid is: Eid Mubarak.
And remember: during Ramadan people may get a bit ratty towards the end of the day due low blood sugar level or feeling desperate for a cigarette!
Expatriates & visitors alike also enjoy traditional Ramadhan evenings, sitting on large pillow, gathering for "Sheesha" & Arabic specialities (hommous, falafel, etc).
CHECK HERE for a list of Arabic dishes:
CHECK HERE for information on Sheesha:
TIP: If you wish to see the traditional, quiet side of Dubai - as well as the hectic shopping malls, street scenes & nightlife, why not arrive during the last few days before the beginning or the end of Ramadhan?
You can then experience both "sides/faces" of the city.
CHECK HERE for facts about nightlife & other restrictions during Ramadhan:
News Article: RAMADHAN EXPLAINED http://www.timeoutdubai.com/dubai/features/review.php?id=1632