ExpatWoman Ramadan Guide
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is one of the most important months for Muslims as it is believed this is the month that the Qu'ran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). During this month all healthy Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset when they must refrain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use, and any kind of intimacy.
People who are physically or mentally unwell are exempt, as are people who are travelling, women who are pregnant, who are menstruating and children under twelve. If the fast is missed they should try to make up the fast at a later date, or make a donation to the poor instead.
Ramadan or Sawn is one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims are expected to follow, the other four are Faith (Shahadah); Prayer (Salah), Charitable Giving (Zakah), and the Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj).
During Ramadan most Muslims will tend to wake up just before sunrise to eat a meal or some food and this is known as Suhoor. They will then not be able to eat or drink again until sunset when it is traditional to open the fast with a date and then eat and this meal is known as Iftar.
"All residents have to respect the month of Ramadan- which means adopting the following rules in public places during daylight hours."
DO's and DON'Ts:
Things That Are Different:
- No eating, drinking or smoking in public.
- Dress more modestly taking care to cover the shoulders, knees and chest area.
- Don’t play loud music in your home or car.
- No public displays of affection.
- Some businesses change their opening hours.
- Some shops may close in the afternoon (1pm onwards) but most also stay open to later times.
- There is no live music allowed during Ramadan and of course no alcohol served during daylight - bars and restaurants do open in the evening though with light background music.
- Rush hour time changes from 6pm till 2pm as most offices close at that time.
Tips for non-fasters:
- There are restaurants and cafes that have a special licence open during the day for non- fasters and these will be screened off from public view so it is still possible to eat outside your home. Most hotels have an outlet open during the day too.
- If you work most offices will implement an area for eating and drinking - don’t have coffee or water at your desk as it may disturb your colleagues.
- If you are pregnant you are exempt from fasting but it is polite to still be discreet. Same with children - they do not have to fast too but it is always best to be discreet.
- Your car is classed as a public place so definitely no smoking in there.
- You can also use restrooms in malls etc. to take a drink.
- Try and be patient with people who are fasting - it is tough and it is hot here. Ramadan is a time of peace and you should not shout or show anger.
- The roads do tend to become a little faster than normal just before Iftar time as people are rushing home to break their fast - take care or avoid driving at this time.
Ramadan is a very special time of year - so embrace where you are and join in - why not try fasting to see what it is like? Do something for charity in the spirit of the season - thinking about others less fortunate than ourselves.
You should also try and sample one of the cities many Iftar buffets - enter into the spirit of the season. Ramadan is also a time where people exercise more - so join in and get fit!
See our full list of Ramadan pointers>>