We take a look at the common terms and Ramadan greetings used during the Holy Month
12 May 2019| Last updated on 15 April 2021
As expats living in a Muslim country, it is advisable to learn some basic phrases and terms used in conversations here.
Especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan, which brings a slower-paced rhythm to the UAE - and with it, its own terminology.
From friendly words and Ramadan greetings to the Arabic word for dates, and even the name of a popular cards game, here is our list of the most commonly used terms and greetings used during Ramadan and what they mean.
What and when is iftar during Ramadan?
Iftar is often observed as a community, with people gathering with friends, family and their communities to break their fast together. For fasting Muslims, iftar is the meal to break their fast at sunset, at the time of the Maghrib prayer.
Iftar occurs just after sunset, before the Maghrib prayer. The prayer timings in Dubai differ from those in other areas of the UAE, such as Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah.
What does "tamr" mean in Arabic?
This is the Arabic word for dates - a staple of the iftar table, which takes on a special meaning during the Holy Month. This fruit is a fasting staple, which was consumed by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during Ramadan. Dates offer the perfect combination of sugar, vitamins, and fibre, and eating them is a great way for fasting Muslims to reboot their systems after a day of fasting.
What and when is suhoor during Ramadan?
Suhoor is the meal taken before sunrise, before the day of fasting begins. This pre-dawn meal should encompass a wholesome meal, which provides long-lasting energy throughout the day. The word 'suhoor' means 'of the dawn'.
The suhoor meal is eaten before sunrise, before the first prayer of the day known as Fajr. The prayer timings in Dubai differ from those in other areas of the UAE, such as Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah.
What does "imsak" mean in Arabic?
This refers to a period of time, around 10 minutes before the dawn prayer, fajr, begins. This is when some worshippers begin their fast - but it is not mandatory, and some Muslims will wait until the fajr call to prayer.
Religious phrases you'll hear
This means "I'm fasting", and is a phrase you'll hear a few times this month - it's useful to know if you are fasting, and you're unexpectedly offered food or something to drink during fasting hours.
This is an important feature of worship during the Holy Month, and means "appeal" or "invocation". Dua is considered to be one of the most powerful forms of worship in Islam. Worshippers raise both hands, as per the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed, as they ask God for help and guidance.
These are nightly prayers that are performed only during the Holy Month of Ramadan. They occur directly after the evening isha prayers, but Taraweeh is considered optional. However, Muslims are strongly encouraged to participate in these prayers during Ramadan. Every mosque in the UAE holds Taraweeh prayers that can last between 30 to 60 minutes.
Common entertainment terms you'll hear
This means television series, and watching them is a huge Ramadan tradition, one that has been going since the 1980s. With the Holy Month providing broadcasters a captive family audience during the evenings, lots of channels play their biggest shows - or 'musalsalat' - at this time of year.
This is a type of tent and is inspired by the once traditional dwelling of the Bedouin people. This essential survival tool today transforms into an area where social gatherings are held after iftar - like these Ramadan tents, for example. In the UAE, big restaurants and hotels are known for providing an oversized Ramadan tent where friends can break their fast, catch-up, play cards and socialise for the evening.
This is a card game that is often played in Ramadan tents or at home with the family.