Saudi Arabia: Ramadan Part I – What is Ramadan?

This post is going to discuss Ramadan, as the subject implies.  It is also going to be post filled with links which will take you back to the many posts I have written since the inception of my blog in 2006 about my own experiences and memories of Ramadan.  This year will be my first Ramadan without Abdullah and as such, Ramadan having always had special meaning for me, stands out even more so this year.

In basic layman’s terms, Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims around the world during which time they will fast from sunrise to sunset.  During the fasting period, Muslims are not to drink or eat.  Exemptions are made for pregnant women, individuals with medical ailments which would be harmed or negatively impacted by fasting, women who are menstruating and for Muslims during a long period of travel.

Ramadan is meant to be a time to cleanse the body of impurities as well as a time of reflection and prayer.  Muslims who fast during Ramadan are also to understand what it feels like to be without substance while having to work and take care of family, such as those who are poor and less fortunate than many.  Muslims are expected to read the entire Quran during Ramadan and attend special Taraweel prayers which are only said during the holy month of Ramadan.  Muslims are expected to be more compassionate, giving and understanding during Ramadan.  It is among the most special times for families, friends and fellow Muslims around the world.

Depending on the sighting of the moon, Ramadan is now less than two weeks ago. I’ve no doubt that all the cities and towns in Saudi Arabia are already preparing for Ramadan with stores offering dates and other specialty foods served traditionally during Ramadan!  This will be a special and exciting time in Saudi on so many fronts.  I’ve written many posts about Ramadan over the years.  In fact, I arrived in Saudi Arabia in the midst of Ramadan back in 2006 and experienced what it was like to fast while traveling.  Ramadan does allow an exemption from fasting when traveling but my Saudi husband and I chose to maintain our fasts.  We were flying Saudi Airlines after all and it was quite easy for us to keep the fast.

Initially it may not be easy to begin the monthly fast. Muslims are human after all and their bodies will initially crave what it is now going without – substance during the day.  However I learned that usually after a few days, the body adapts to the absence of food until sunset. Because of the absence of food and water, it is natural for Muslims to feel weak, think, walk and act more slowly than usual.

During Ramadan, the five daily prayers of Islam continue to be observed in addition to the Taraweel prayers.  Ramadan is a time when most Muslims strictly observe the timing of the prayers.  During Ramadan, prayers observed in the mosques may be longer than usual.  Taraweel prayers are typically broadcast over loudspeakers for everyone to hear.

Many Muslim families will wake up ahead of sunrise in order to have a hearty breakfast and hydrate themselves before beginning the daily fast.  My Saudi husband enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, white cheese, toast, honey and dates.  I usually had three dates and a bottle of water.  However at sunset, during ifthar which is the breaking of the fast heralded in by the sound of the adhan, busy Muslim families will be sure to sit together and break their fast together at sunset.  Each family will have their own traditions in how they break their fasts.  Some may break a fast quickly with khawa and tumir then proceed directly to a regular meal like any other night.  For Abdullah and I and our extended Saudi family we made each ifthar a special tradition.  Yes, we broke our initial fast with khawa and dates and if we had guests or other family, we’d offer vento too.  (Vento is a sweet syrupy drink with a high sugar content)

After abating the initial pangs of hunger, we would go and pray.  On returning from prayers our staggered meal would begin.  First I’d offer sambosas and a light soup which was typically barley or boulger based.  We would take our time eating and sipping the soup, feeling our stomachs fill.  The next course would then be a main meal.  The only distinction from our regular main meals is that during Ramadan I did not prepare kubsa or rice.  Many families do but this was a particular idiosyncrasy of Abdullah’s which I respected.  By the time we completed our main meal it was time to perform the final of the five prayers.  After prayer we’d then have a dessert with tea.  Kunafa was always a favorite of Abdullah’s during Ramadan followed by cheesecake.  Our stomachs by then were happily full and we’d enjoy sipping sweet Arabic tea the rest of the evening until bedtime.

The cycle of our morning breakfasts and evening meals continued throughout the month of Ramadan.

In my view it is much easier to observe Ramadan in Saudi Arabia than most other places in the world.  Saudi Arabia adapts throughout the entire Kingdom to cater to those who are fasting during the day.  Working days and hours are shortened, to include schools and Universities.  Restaurants and other eateries are closed during Ramadan fasting hours.  Even Starbucks is closed during Ramadan fasting hours!  Malls, strip malls and regular shops have Ramadan hours.  Business enterprises to include malls and restaurants open just before or after the breaking of the fast and then have extended hours to the wee hours of the night.  In the case of restaurants and other eateries it is common to have special iftar meals and sutoor meals.

Sutoor is the last meal before resuming the fast at sunrise.  For some families and friends, sutoor is a time to get together, eat heartily and then pray together the first morning prayer.  As a result of the changed hours and fasting, it is not uncommon for those who do not work during Ramadan to get their days and nights turned around.

Ramadan will commence when the new moon has been sighted, signaling the end of Ramadan and beginning of the celebration of Eid Al FitrPrior to Eid al Fitr, families will stay out late at the malls to do shopping in anticipation of the Eid.

During Ramadan all Saudi television networks will broadcast special Ramadan shows.  Most shows are scheduled to start shortly after ifthar on the first day of Ramadan and will continue nightly until Eid al Fitr.  These shows also bring family and friends together to enjoy the show and each other’s company.

During each and every day of Ramadan a Muslim should not forget the true spirit of what Ramadan is about.  This includes reaching out to those who have less and are in need.  I’m proud to say that my Saudi family always reach out to feed the poor during Ramadan (and beyond).  Additionally, Ramadan is a time when Muslims are encouraged and in some cases, expected to read the entire Quran.  In my husband’s case, he would read his Quran each day two hours prior to iftar.  Following this schedule, he generally had his reading of the Quran completed by week three of Ramadan.

For fellow Muslims, please share your families Ramadan experiences and traditions!

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40 Responses

  1. My first Ramadan when I converted was five years ago. I had become engaged and moved in with “my saudi” into a house we decided to buy in CA. Since the house had 5 bedrooms as well as a loft, we had his brother, my brother and three cousins move in. (we were all students at the time) This was all about two weeks before Ramadan. I had gotten use to the boys smoking hooka in the garage (and not having cars parked in there because of it and the made shift coffee house they had in there), of people coming in and out of the living room at all hours of the day, of the constant cooking of something and even though I was on the second floor, I was right above the tv, which was annoying at times when I had to wake up early. So I figured with Ramadan, things would calm down, boy was I ever wrong. The house seemed to explode with saudis. I remember waking up to get orange juice for me and my finance, and tripping over two guys sleeping on the stair case and when I woke them up to move them to a couch, I saw the couches and floor filled with sleeping bodies, all waiting to do the morning prayer and then head off to a mid term. It was a trip, but at the same time, it was really nice. I felt like Wendy and the lost boys. I got a pink prayer rug from one of his sisters, since I loved pink, and his mother got me a prayer dress, it was nice. And the guys spent hours upon hours explaining to me the drama and conflict of the Ramadan shows like Tash ma Tash and the awful turkish soaps. I learned a lot, not in a very structured way, but it was a lot more fun then I thought it would be, and I was upset over losing Christmas when I converted, so for a first Ramadan, it pretty much confirmed my religion and helped me understand better about how hard it is for students here and how life may be life over is KSA, and what a loving religion Islam is. My Ramadans are now less people filled, which is nice because now I don’t trip over notebooks and sleeping bodies.

    But the whole thing just makes you feel warm inside. It’s the one time I truly don’t feel a huge culture gap, because everyone, no matter where they are from, are on the same spirital path. People are happy (well, except for the last two hours before sunset…lol…), caring, a lot of story exchanging and praying…I have to say, I now get the feeling towards Ramadan that I use to get when I was little and waiting for Christmas.

    One thing that was super funny about the guys though, on Eid when we exchanged gifts, they put mine under the potted tree in the living room as a joke because half of them had been there when I was crying over not having a Christmas tree that year. So that was endearing and humorous, something Saudis constantly are.

  2. I am not a Muslim, but I fast during Ramadan. Because I live quite far north of the equator, this means that at this time of year, the fast is very long – enough so that I need to start preparing about a month in advance, rolling back my noon meal by half an hour a day until I reach the wee hours of the morning – a bit before 2:30 AM. And then rolling the afternoon meal forward half an hour a day until I reach sunset. Since I have found out the hard way that it is a bad idea to just suddenly start eating ‘normally’ after such a lengthy fast – the result being never really achieving normal, regular eating habits before it’s time to begin the next year’s fast – I have decided that this year, I will be following a calendar to gradually reverse the pre-Ramadan preparation and move back to normal.

    I admit to having been a bit inconsistent lately about observing prayer times. The content of these prayer times is a little different from the traditional Islamic prayer times, but this concept exists in all of the religions of the Book – especially among the Christian monastics, who pray 7-8 times a day. So one of my goals this Ramadan is to be more consistent about establishing prayer times.

    I also, recognizing the Islamic tradition of focusing on the Book during that time, plan to complete a program of reading through both the Bible and the Qur’an. I have the good fortune to be able to do that in the company of a like-minded blogger friend who posted a list of the juz’ (traditional division of the Qur’an into 30 parts, one to be read each day during the Tarawih prayers – works out to about 20 pages of my personal edition of the Qur’an), while I posted an equivalent list for the Bible (which works out to about 40 chapters a day).

    For anyone who is interested, these reading programs are posted on my blog:

    http://caraboska.livejournal.com

    and can be accessed from the link list at the right of the screen.

    I admit that while dried dates (and very occasionally fresh ones as well) are available where I live, I don’t normally partake. Maybe I will change that this year? But I try to eat sensibly, not too much. I have probably lost a couple of kilograms during this year’s preparations.

    Another thing I plan to do during Ramadan, God willing, is make myself hijab-observant workout clothes (sweat suit and swim suit) so that once Ramadan is over, I can return to the gym (got a coupon for a special deal on a new gym near my place).

  3. PS While I am on the subject of these coupons, they are also available for many other cities around the world besides my own at

    http://www.groupon.com

    You might get a default city at the beginning, but then near the top of the page you will find a link ‘Visit other cities’, and then you can scroll down, find cities in the States, and right beneath that list, also a list with links to sites for other countries where Groupons are available: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.

    You can sign up for a daily e-mail of deals for your desired city/cities (even, for example, one(s) you plan to visit while on vacation). They seem to take care to provide only really nice deals for such things as restaurants, gyms, dog-walking services, etc. At any rate, I have been happy with them thus far, so I thought that maybe other readers might be interested.

  4. I have fasted for about 20 days in Ramzan once and am always invited to Iftaar dinners by my Muslim friends.

    In India, Muslims keep on carrying out their normal activities despite fasting and don’t change heir timings. According to them, that’s what fast means – to be able to do all one’s normal work despite the fast. Others don’t stop eating because of them and they also don’t demand it.

    They say if they sleep during the fasting hours, waking up only for prayers and remain awake only during eating hours and if the conditions are made specially conducive for them because of Ramzan, then it is not fast at all and the entire purpose of fast is nullified.

    Seen from this perspective, Saudi style fasting during Ramzan is not fasting at all.

    Saudis should learn from Indian Muslims.

  5. During the first couple of years of being Muslim, I also thought that the Saudi customs for observing Ramadan were “…not fasting at all and the entire purpose of fast is nullified.”

    Gradually, I changed my attitude. The instructions for fasting are clear, but why are so many Muslims criticized because they do it the easy way?

    Physiologically, the body becomes tired and listless when it is slightly deprived of nutrition as it is during the last few hours of fasting. Energy levels rise for many hours after “breakfast”, so why should we not take advantage of the bodies natural responses, and adjust our activities accordingly?

  6. I completely agree with Marahm.

    Even though I am not a Muslim yet, I think that Ramadan is hard enough and Muslims all over the world should get a light/ customized schedule. If some Muslims can carry out their normal activities and not change their schedules good for them, but I don’t see the point of “blaming” the others Muslims and especially Saudis for having the month of ramadan organized differently.

    Afterall, every Muslim has a direct relationship with Allah, only Allah can judge what is wrong or right about a behaviour during Ramadan.

  7. Muslims all over the world are not living in 100% Muslim populated countries.

    In India, not only Muslims fast for religious reasons. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs (and also some Christians and Jews) have their own fasting schedules which cover the entire annual calendar.

    If leverage of these types are given to all of them – since India is a democracy, so rules have to be the same for all – then no work will be done in a multi-religious country like India. As it is, we have large number of festival holidays because the festivals of all religions have to be accommodated in the holiday calendar.

    We can’t afford to cut down any more on work hours than what we have done. Besides, why should the 87% of the country suffer because 13% people want to fast for an entire month?

    Moreover, Muslims are not doing a favour to the world by fasting on Ramzan. It’s their religious obligation and that’s why they are fasting. So I don’t see why the work should suffer on account of their personal faith.

    Third, I don’t see what kind of a fast this is in which people don’t work during daytime and work only during eating hours – this means they are not really fasting; they have simply reversed their daily schedule by working when their stomach is full and sleeping when they are not eating or praying – which is exactly what they do on normal days too.

    I don’t see any piety in the Saudi way of fasting, which is really a mechanical and selfish way of fulfilling their obligations in a technical manner, without understanding the spirit behind fasting.

    If Indian Muslims can work while fasting and they actually emphasise that this is the way to fast, why can’t the Saudi Muslims do so – with the greater amount of comforts of life they have around them as compared to Indian Muslims, who don’t live such luxurious lives?

  8. Sorry, wrong email above. That’s my comment.

  9. Ramadan kareem for everyone here. Ramadan is not only fasting for food. It is to fast for not doing anything bad: lie, verbal offence, backbiting etc. It is to be pure from inside and to practice that. And yes in Saudi, lifestyle and time change upside down. In Saudi, day becomes night and night becomes day. So, people are awake from the afternoon till 9 in the morning the next day even the markets, malls etc. Then, they sleep till noon, going to pray, then sleep till Asar prayer then read Quran or go out for shopping for breakfast, inviting friends for breakfast etc. It is very lovely. This is the lifestyle of young people during Ramadan. For old people, it is different, they sleep early at 11 or 12 p.m, then they wake up for sahour, and dawn prayer. Then little sleep till 8 a.m then they continue working till 11 p.m.

    @persianxrose,
    Christmas tree has a special meaning to me that I will never ever forget (: . That day was the happiest day in all my life and still. You just refreshed my memory, thanks. and you can practice celebrating christmas as well. I do not know why to give up? you do not need to believe in it but you can practice it as a tradition. people should share their traditions for more tolerance and more cultural contact. it is lovely to share others their traditions and I like it a lot.

    salam

  10. Abdullah and I always continued to practice traditions and customs of both of our combined families. It made for such cherished memories!

    I am very much enjoying reading all these comments.

  11. I have no problem with people adjusting their timings, especially if it is hot or the day is long. But the Quran says that the night is for rest and also the nught time prayers are seen as leading to a closer relationship with God.

    When the night is spent eating and watching TV then these elements are lost. Also, I wonder how many Muslims actually study during Ramadhan. For me it is a time of focussing on religion and actively trying to improve my knowledge and understanding.

    Spending family time is a also good and makes for great friendly and family relationships.

  12. well i’ll start by saying i don’t fast but i activly support my fasting spouse and any kids who do 🙂 It was much easier in KSA, the whole place is geared to ramadan and even those fasting found it much easier. not to diminish the piety but if it’s available why not avail of the oppurtunity 🙂 we never kept vampire hours but still it’s much much easier to do there than other places.
    F has an easier timein india too, it’s generally slow there and they do make some concessions if you are fasting.. atleast for him.
    Here inthe US, he fasts but just has a regular breakfast + maybe more fluids and then have early dinner and a later snack 🙂 and a vegetarian one at that…the one big change for him is no surgery scheduled after 2pm.. to make up he got an early start ..

    As for me, only if my son fast s then i have work…trust me when i say teens can eat a lot…I wake early complain and cook and cook. with the amount of food he packed away he can easily fast an entire 24 hrs 🙂 and then F comes down has creal ,fruit and juice andleaves…hmmm strange pair this dad and son.

    I like F’s tyle of fasting, simple , nothing complicated and serene… this yr it’s just me,F and my daughter with only F fasting.. but my daughter is big into baking..so F is in for a treat when he breaks fast..

  13. Daisy’s point should be well taken– that adjusting people’s work schedules to accommodate fasting (in a democratic country) cannot be done without losing the structural overlay of the society.

    Observing the fast in the United States has proved such an insipid experience, and too dangerous with respect to performing my job, that I’ve given it up.

    She goes on to say, “I don’t see any piety in the Saudi way of fasting…. a mechanical and selfish way of fulfilling their obligations…without understanding the spirit behind fasting.”

    Surely, this impression can seem valid, especially when viewed from the outside. However, one is always on shaky ground when judging the piety of others.

    While living in Riyadh, adjusting my work schedule for Ramadan, I was always able to keep my prayers, do my job, complete reading the Qur’an and strengthen my social life by having lots of fun!

    By the way, the word “fast” only means to refrain from something. It doesn’t mean you have to suffer in the process.

  14. I gotta laugh at those who dis other people’s religion and culture and or the way they practice their religion.

    As a Muslim should I be going around telling people how to celebrate their holidays? Perhaps I should tell Jews how to celebrate Passover huh? Or maybe I could comment on how religious a Hindu is by the way they celebrate Diwali?

    Some people really have nerves, let me tell ya’……..LOL! I guess sometimes ignorance is not only bliss but somehow it also gives the person the false sense that they know more than they do.

  15. And honestly, Saudi Arabia is not the one primary example of Islam. While sure there maybe many Saudis who go about fasting the wrong way, I still don’t believe it is anybody’s business to comment on the matter so negatively when they are not even a member of the faith/religion?

    My question is can’t we have at least one thread here where people don’t use it as a way to slam Islam and Muslims? Its our holy month, how about a bit of respect? Instead of concentrating on the negative, is it possible to mention some positive?

    Some people here have already hijacked every thread in the last year in regards to slamming Islam and Muslims including Saudis. Is it possible if you could be half way decent and not do so with this one??

    (Somehow, I think I already know the answer, I just thought of giving it a try….lol!)

  16. S3oodiah, I could claim that it works the other way around too – that if a Christian appears on this blog, Muslims take the opportunity to jump down their throat. But it doesn’t happen all the time – any more than it happens all the time that non-Muslims take the opportunity to slam Muslims. Why not see the sizeable number of non-Muslims on here who are even married to Muslims, who have positive views? I think it does not help the image of Islam outside the Islamic world for people to be seeing Muslims who will see persecution behind every bush and not see the good that is happening too. It almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – we see persecution, that’s what we get. We see respect, we live respect – from others to us, and from us to others – and that’s what we get. What we sow, this also we will reap.

  17. Carabooska…

    It is interesting that as a non Muslim you go to great lengths to have solidarity with Muslims during Ramadan. Are you married to a Muslim or perhaps have muslim relatives? I only ask because it seems that the fasting during Rmamdan is difficult and done for a spiritual reason for many. I guess I am curious why you do it…I have NO problems with it at all so please don’t take my question to mean that. I am wondering if it is part of a spiritual journey or some other reason. If you’d rather not answer no worries.

  18. oby, Never been married to anyone, Muslim or otherwise 🙂 My biological relatives are of at least nominally Christian, European origin. One close family member, related by marriage only, is 100% Ashkenazi Jewish. None of them are particularly happy about my religious activities.

    I had my first lengthy discussions with Muslims online about 8 years ago. I had already spent quite a bit of time investigating Islam, so the conversations quickly got very involved. At the time, however, I was feeling a need for ‘something new’. If I’d had money, I would quite possibly have moved to another country. But since that wasn’t an option…

    One day shortly before Ramadan, an Egyptian e-buddy was describing for me his experience of hearing the prayer call EVERYWHERE – even while in class at university. And I began to be curious. And another e-buddy sent me a link to info about Ramadan, which contained another link entitled ‘Prayer’. And so there I downloaded my first prayer program.

    What I am saying is that I tried this, and actual prayers, and hijab, and fasting, initially out of curiosity. I figured I would find out what they would mean for me personally. And all of these practices probably do have a different meaning for me than the traditional Islamic understanding.

    And the fasting in particular turned out to be a good way to get rid of those ‘encrustations’ that grow upon our lives during the course of the year, a way of ‘getting back on track’ with discipline in such matters as eating habits. I figured that if we approach not eating as a holy act of worship, then when we cease to fast, then our eating can also be, likewise, an act of worship.

    Nowadays I have quite a few Muslim as well as likeminded Christian e-friends, so it is natural to share experiences, help someone out who is fasting for the first time, etc. This year will be my fifth fast.

  19. Daisy,

    I think your view is rather harsh. I’ve explained what Saudi Arabia does. Actually, Pakistan did this to an extent too. Some of the GCC countries have similar changes. However for Muslims who are not in a country where hours are changed or eateries are closed, of course they have to comply.

    All the years Abdullah and I were in the States we managed to fast and work our regular hours. However anyone who is of the Muslim faith appreciates the changes of routine when possible.

    There is no question of forcing one to abide rather one adapting to the culture and country which they are in.

    On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 4:01 PM, Carol Fleming wrote:

    > Abdullah and I always continued to practice traditions and customs of both > of our combined families. It made for such cherished memories! > > I am very much enjoying reading all these comments. >

  20. PS Last year, one of my Muslim blogger friends did in fact ask me why I don’t observe Lent or something instead of Ramadan. And so I decided to check into the rules for Lent, and it turned out that since I am vegetarian (as in, no fish either) and eat moderately, I am already observing a fast even stricter than the Lenten fast – year ’round! So Ramadan is like the cherry atop the sundae 🙂

  21. I have so many good memories of Ramadan! In Bangladesh we also have some sort of adjusted schedule for store hours, schools etc. Not sure about regular offices. My father owns his business, so he used to go to his office whenever. We used to have our school closed for the entire month of Ramadan and then some for Eid!! Though, for the upper level classes and Colleges used to run till middle of Ramadan and then get closed. I remember how the neighborhood night guard would pass by the houses/buildings and scream…”good people get up..it’s time for suhoor” and then sounds of sirens coming from mosques kind of like an alarm clock. My mom used to be so busy buying loads of saris and kids clothing for the poor in her mom’s village..and then would take a trip to her mom’s village and distribute those. It was a sight to see. Poor in Bangladesh ( and there are no shortage of that) look forward to Ramadan and Eids! This is the time they get cloths from various well to do family or just regular family who are obligated to pay zakat, which is mandatory. They get clothing and money. In our house, in Ramadan we always used to have one poor person, someone who one of our maids knew…or something stay and get fed for the whole month while she fasted. It kind of became a tradition. Till this day my parents follow the same thing and do the same thing every Ramadan. I haven’t been to Bangladesh for 12 years during Ramadan, I so miss it! But inshaAllah this year I’ll be catching half of the Ramadan there!! So excited! For kids it’s very exciting time as well. I remember while I was a kid, me and my siblings used to look forward to Ramadan for Eid shopping…hehehehe.. of course we fasted as well. We used to have an Imam who would come home and listen to us while we recited Quran to make sure we are doing it correctly. We recited in Arabic of course! I used to look forward to Iftar time (LOL), one of my major duties was to help the maid to cook/made Iftar. I sooo miss that!! Ramadan is nothing like there…in US when I first came as an Intl Student (w. student visa) my first Ramadan was so hard! I mean I didn’t even feel like it was Ramadan. Though I think, things have changed a lot in the last few years in US in a positive way, still I miss my good ole time in Bangladesh! Our Iftar typically is varities of pakoras, puffed rice, fruits, dates, home made lemonade. Everyone breaks fast with dates in our house, but I do with lemonade as I don’t like trying fruits. Then prayer and tea time! Ramadan Mubarak!

  22. @Noorjahan,

    Thank YOU for sharing your wonderful memories of Ramadan back in Bangladesh. You make me want to be a part of your family then too! (smile)

  23. Carabooska…

    Thank you for the excellent explanation. I think it is a good way to “restart the clock” so to speak and get back on track to better eating. I think all religions have some sort of fast and prayer routine generally for a spiritual effect. As a achild I remember fating and “offering” my sacrifice to God and it additionally reminded me that there were so many people in the world who were far less fortunate than I and it kept me humble and mindful of not only God but my fellow humans needs and my blessings.

    Happy Ramadan to all.

  24. I live in a small town in a non muslim communitty.My husband and I are the only muslims.The nearest masjid is several hours away.I still fast and I take advantage of Ramadan to discuss my faith with my collegues at the office.
    It’s been 4 years now since my first Ramadan and people at work are very aware of it,they are careful not to have pot lucks for lunch etc during Ramadan, several even host iftars for us( even cooking seafood or fish because of non avaibility of halal meat).
    When Eid comes around I bake and bring sweet to the office and share the celebration with them.It’s nice to see such tolerance.

    Daisy, you will never change, can’t you even once be respectful of others??
    No one but Allah can judge someone’s intentions and their heart, so why would you?

  25. That is beautiful, Sara!

  26. Ramadan is a beautiful time of year for me. Not only is the spiritual atmosphere at its maximum but it also brings people together, sharing of food, assistance, being good to each other, charitable ..etc. It is a truly unique time of the year. Most part of the year, we do not see the nieghbors but during Ramdan, its like we have been in touch all the time! We exchange home made food with them as well as the local mosques.

    I spent one Ramadan in India. It was very simple. We broke our fasts with dates and some fruits then went for prayers and back for the main meal, then off again for the taraweeh prayers. The mosque was a some distacne away. So we I used to ride on the three-wheeler.

    In the Gulf the times change and that adds to the excitement and the build up to Eid is thrilling with people praying and then shopping and during the nights the streets are bustling with activites.

    Here, too, we break the fast with dates, fruits, samboosa and drinks of fresh juice. After prayers it is too tiring, so we rest for some time and then read Quran or sit with families and relatives or friends.

    I make it a point to complete the reading of the Quran during this month.

    Ramadan Kareeem everyone! 🙂

  27. I really enjoyed reading all the comments – Noorjahan, wow. It sounds like your family truly lives what Ramadhan is all about. I was very inspired when you mentioned that you had a poor person come stay with you for the month, and that your family gives clothes and money to the poor in the area. MashAllah, if every Muslim did that for their community, what a different world we would live in. I wish I had money to be able to do something like that, but I have started a new job and won’t get paid until the end of Ramadan (and am hoping to not get evicted before then…). 😦

    @ Sara: That sounds like a great idea to educate your colleagues about Islam and Ramadhan, and to bring sweets to the office for Eid! Since I teach many Muslim students, I think I’ll bring something to class too (and then we can have a discussion about it and other religious holidays other students in the class celebrate). It won’t be the same as in their home countries, but at least reaching out and acknowledging it would be appreciated, I’m sure.

  28. I love Ramazan .it is the month of inviting or being invited for iftar in our family.my mom is the first person who invite, then my brothers and sisters who are married invite.my two uncles who live near us are invited too! breaking fast with near 20 people in one table is a wonderfulexperience(we are a big family,8 children!!!!)
    very delicious foods are served like: Aashe Reshteh, Shole Zard , Halva….
    if you liked to make these foods , these links help:
    http://www.persian-recipes.com/persianrecipes/2009/08/30/aashe-reshteh/
    http://www.persian-recipes.com/persianrecipes/2009/09/03/persian-halva/
    http://www.persian-recipes.com/persianrecipes/2009/09/01/shole-zard/
    wow forget to say Zulbia And Bamiyah are served too.
    Aafke know how sweet this is! : )
    http://www.anvari.org/iran/Persian_Food_Recipes/Dessert_-_Zoolbia.html
    inshallah all muslims around the world have a healthy happy Ramazan this year specialy you carol!! : ) : ) : )

  29. Thank YOU Mariam for sharing and especially the links!!!

    During the last 2 weeks of Ramadan we would always be in Makkah and iftar was celebrated similar to what you describe Mariam. We would be separated due to the large gathering (my husband was one of 10 siblings!) but there would be so many special dishes and so much warmth, love and happiness around that tablecloth laid out on the floor.

  30. hello to all and RAMAZAN MUBARAK to all \
    can some one tell me that when is the exact date of first day of RAMAZAN MUBARAK acording to the SUDI ARABIA

  31. […] month of Ramadan for Muslims worldwide, I thought I would share a post about suhoor.  For anyone unfamiliar with Ramadan, this is a holy month of fasting.  Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset.  During the fasting […]

  32. […] is the holy month of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia as well as around the rest of the world.  For the entire month, Muslims worldwide […]

  33. […] beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan as well as the end of Ramadan and beginning of Eid al-Fitr are all contingent on the visual […]

  34. […] are the final days of Ramadan 2010 with Eid Al Fitr soon approaching.  During these final days I find myself thinking of all the […]

  35. […] find that there are commonalities between Ramadan and Christmas preparations even though the reason of both is quite different from one another. […]

  36. SIGNIFICANCE OF FASTING
    ———————————–

    One of the siginificance of Ramdan is to feel the pain of those who remain hungry in normal life. Rich people, President, Prime Minister, King eat lavish food while poor people fight for 2 times food and many fall asleep without food (we saw today in Africa). When Ramdan comes even king, president, PM has to fast inspite of having enough to eat. At that time they feel what is pain and it will make them feel to help the poor and needy in the society. In the eyes of God, all are same irrespective of social and financial status.

  37. Ramadan is the one month out of the year when Muslims somehow manage to eat twice as much as they normally do in half the amount of time. Food wastage is horrendous and the month of so called spirituality and closeness to god just becomes one long excuse to do nothing….and be constantly irritable and short tempered while do nothing. It is also the month in which housemaids, who are often over worked as it is, are expected to turn into workhorses that require no rest and little thanks.

    It is a month of pure hypocrisy. What little good comes from it hardly compares to the corruption of its true intent.

    Ok generalization I know…having spent 23 years surrounded by Muslims…its what I saw and experienced…so I dont feel it’s stretching the truth too much. 😉

  38. I don’t feel like you are generalizing as I saw much of the same in Saudi. Although I must say that when I lived in Pakistan during Ramadan, I saw more of how one expects Ramadan to be followed.

  39. O told my sonthe same thing when he used ot fast, hes eat enough calories before the fast to last him probably 2 days 🙂 .. i rather like F’s style , eat a normal breakfast and thaen eat a normal dinner after sunset. bonus he manages to lose a lot of wt, ( not something he wants) so after ramadhan it’s back to protein and lifting weights 🙂 🙂

  40. I always lost weight during Ramadan too. Call me stubborn but I stuck to my regular schedule and did not change my days/nights around. I was usually working through most of Ramadan too.

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