13 FACTS ABOUT RAMADAN AND FASTING
Today is the start of Ramadan in the Islamic world. Here are some facts about Ramadan and the fasting ritual, a timely Thursday Thirteen list for me. This is my first time to experience Ramadan here in Dubai so I educate myself as I go.
- Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset.
- It begins about eleven days earlier each year.
- In many Islamic countries, the beginning of Ramadan is announced by a firing of a gun or cannon on the eve of the first day.
- Ramadan will end about October 12 (give or take a day depending on the sighting of the new moon) and then there will be a 1-3 days holiday called Eid Al-Fitr.
- Fasting is compulsory for those who are mentally and physically fit, past the age of puberty, and in a settled situation i.e., not travelling (so don’t freak out, you can have in-flight meals when coming to Dubai during Ramadan!). Pregnant women and nursing mothers are exempted and non-Muslims of course!
- When do you start to fast? The rule is that when it becomes light enough where you can tell a white thread from a black thread.
- The timing of Iftar(time where the fast is broken and you are allowed to eat) varies from day to day and is usually announced on the radio or television today. But the old tradition is to listen for the call from the minarets of the mosque.
- Muslims break their fast by drinking water and eating dates, just as how their prophet broke his fast years prior. This will be followed by a regular dinner.
- On the 27th day of Ramadan, fireworks are often used to celebrate The Night of Power – – the night that Muhammad first received the revelation of the Quran in 610.
- Most coffee shops and restaurants are closed during the day. Some of the hotels have at least one restaurant open for public but screened-off in some way.
- No music should be played in public. No live music or dancing for the entire month. However, pubs play some low background music.
- Office hours are shortened, work is from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm only.
- Ramadan is a time for self-examination and increased religious devotion. The fast ends when the new moon is sighted again and the month of Shawwal begins.