Living in a Muslim country during Ramadan
June 16, 2015
If you are an expat living in a Muslim country during the month of Ramadan, you will have to live by law by the same rules as the Muslims whilst outside our homes:
- You cannot drink, smoke, eat, chew gum in public. Be sensible, go out immediately after lunch so that you won't be hungry.
- You must wear clothing that is more concealing than normal (cover shoulders, trousers rather than shorts, etc.)
- You cannot join an expat club during the month of Ramadan and can only be signed into one by a member after Iftar.
- The alcohol stores are close too.Shops are open for longer hours and it is not unusual to see children in the play areas at 2am. This is due to the families sleeping during the day - usually from 2 to 6pm. All eateries are closed during the day, this includes coffee shops, cafe's, restaurants. Some amusement places close for the month too.
During Ramadan try to avoid the following when working with Muslim colleagues:
- Meetings which include lunch.
- Late afternoon meetings.
- Organising department parties or social events.
- Eating or drinking where you can be seen. Most companies set off rooms where the windows are blacked out where non fasting expats can go to eat and drink.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri/Islamic calendar. The word Ramadan is derived from Ar-ramad which means intense heat, dryness, scorched ground. Being a lunar calendar, the Hijri calendar is 11 to 12 days shorter than Gregorian calendar, therefore Ramadan is 11 to 12 days earlier each year.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during daylight hours. Work hours are a lot less due to hunger and fatigue. Usually for 8am to 2pm. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon and continues until the next new moon is sighted or 30 days has passed - whichever comes sooner. Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. For all Muslims, it is a special month of fasting, repentance and increased prayer and charity. The greeting is "Ramadan Mubarak"
Typical activities of Ramadan:
- Sahoor: Light meal before dawn and the first prayer of the day.
- Iftar: Breaking of the fast at sunset (coincides with Maghrib, the 4th daily prayer) - usually about 6.30pm.
- Ziarat: Social gatherings (e.g: visiting friends, relatives, sharing food with neighbours, friends and the poor).
- Qira'at: Reading of the Qur'an during free time.
- Qiam: Optional late night prayers in the last 10 days of Ramadan. More than 2 million Muslims from all over the world gather at Makkah during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Fasting - what is it?
- Fasting begins at the break of dawn and ends at sunset.
- No food, drink, smoking, chewing gum, drinking water or any other fluid, or intercourse can be done during fasting hours.
- Refrain from blameworthy thoughts and acts (such as swearing, vain talk, hurtful behaviour) at all times.
- All Muslims except children, unhealthy adults (mentally or physically), adults travelling long distances and women who are menstruating, in post-birth care pregnant or breast feeding must fast.
Although the fast is supposed to be beneficial to heath, it is regarded as a method of spiritual self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in their spiritual life.
Eid Al-Fitr - what is it?
- Eid Al-Fitr is the feast marking the end of Ramadan.
- Zakat Al-Fitr is charity given to the poor at the end of fasting in Ramadan.
- Eid includes - Eid prayer in early morning, visiting friends, neighbours, the sick and the elderly, enjoying festive meals and modest gift giving especially to children.
The greeting is "Eid Mubarak".