Ramadan is Coming

On or about 01 September the holy month of Ramadan will begin.  I have written posts in the past on Ramadan but feel it is necessary each year to write a post reminding viewers what Ramadan is all about and how it impacts on routine life in the Kingdom.  To begin with, Ramadan is a holy month of fasting.  All muslims who are able will fast from sunrise to sunset during which time they abstain from both food and water.  Exceptions to this rule are those who are too young to maintain a fast, those who are on medications or have other health factors which would prevent them from fasting, those who are traveling during Ramadan need not fast on travel days and women who are menstruating are not to fast.  Muslims will fast for one month and at the end of the month there will follow several days of festivity and celebrations known as Eid al Fitr.  But before I get ahead of myself, during Ramadan, muslims are to fast and experience what it feels like to those less fortunate to go without food or water.  In addition the fasting is also a time to cleanse the body while reflecting on ones life and closeness to God.  Special prayers are said during Ramadan and even those (men) who may not go to the mosque five times per day will find themselves more attentive to their Islamic duties during Ramadan. 


Muslims are expected during Ramadan to maintain their basic schedules and routines although work hours (at least in Muslim states) are shortened by several hours during the period.  Although it happens all too  frequently, Ramadan is not meant for muslims to switch their days and nights around so that they sleep through the day and therefore avoid the pangs of fasting.  For me personally, I’ve always found that I tend to lose weight during Ramadan.


The tradition of breaking the fast can vary from family to family.  However most will start breaking their fast by having Arabic kawa and dates.  Dates are good and easy for the digestive system as well as quickly providing a burst of energy.  Once the initial fast has been broken, it depends on the individual families what dishes they serve as well as how they serve them.


The last week of Ramadan starts becoming very festive.  Muslims know that soon the month of fasting will be over.  Shops are open late at night and into the wee hours of the morning during Ramadan.  People like to shop for at Eid it is traditional for all individuals to wear new fashionable outfits in celebration.


There is naturally an initial adjustment when beginning the fast.  This is especially true for those who are accustomed to multiple cups of coffee or perhaps smoke.  The caffeine or nicotine withdrawal can make one initially suffer until their body adjusts.  But in most cases, after the first week the body adjusts and fasting is not difficult.  Of course fasting in such a place as Saudi Arabia is made much easier with all restaurants, coffee shops and canteens closed during the fasting hours so there are no aromas of fresh ground coffee or foods cooking.


Non-muslims who do not fast should be considerate for the muslims in their midst.  Non-muslims are not expected to fast or forego food but it is expected that they would prepare and eat it out of the way of muslims who are fasting.  I would also suggest that a non-muslim try fasting for at least one day if not more just to have the experience of fasting.  Calendars are usually widely distributed which indicate the times to start and end fasts.


Don’t be surprised that particularly during the first week of Ramadan that some muslims might be a little bit grumpy, quiet or much slower in performing tasks.  This is due to the adjustment period of fasting.  And it is also a fact that many processes and actions will be much more slower during Ramadan with some decisions and activities simply postponed until Ramadan is over, especially any activities pertaining to government ministries.


Depending on where one is employed, either the last ten days or last five days of Ramadan will be a time of holiday.  All government offices, ministries, banks and even many private companies will shut down during this period.


For some of my earlier posts about Ramadan which explain other aspects of this time please see:











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