With Ramadan expected to begin on May 17, it’s important for residents in the UAE to understand the customs and rules of public conduct during the monthlong religious festival.
This time of year also presents a unique opportunity for non-Muslims to learn more about the customs and significance of the holy Month, as well as get more involved in local culture. To get you started, we’ve put together a helpful beginners guide including the do’s and don’ts to follow during Ramadan. Check it out..
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a sacred month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn-to-dusk, increase prayer and practice self-reflection. For approximately 30 days, observers refrain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours.
Why do Muslims have to fast?
Fasting, prayer and charity during Ramadan are all meant to purify the body and spirit. Fasting is also one of the five pillars of Islam.
Do start with a greeting: Greet your Muslim colleagues and friends with ‘Ramadan Kareem‘ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak‘.
Do be respectful of those fasting: Eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum in public is seen as disrespectful to those who are fasting, and can even result in a fine.
Do that little extra to help those in need: In line with the charitable spirit of Ramadan, it’s recommended to take more time in helping the needy. Even the smallest gesture can go a long way.
Do engage in the festivities: Whether you’re invited to a traditional Iftar (the meal eaten to break the fast), or a late-night Ramadan tent for Suhoor (the meal eaten in the early morning before fasting starts), you’ll find that this cultural experience is both eye-opening and enjoyable.
Do check timings: The working hours for private sector companies are reduced by two hours. For government employees, working hours are from 9am to 2pm. Eateries also adjust their timings to cater for Iftar and Suhoor, so it’s best to check beforehand.
Don’t forget to be considerate of those dressing conservatively: Ramadan is seen as a time of heightened spirituality, with many Muslims spending extra hours at the Mosque. Dressing modestly is appreciated during this month.
Don’t lose patience: It’s easy to get frustrated with the adjusted timings, slower working schedules and altered routines, but remember, Ramadan is a month of patience and self-control.
Don’t play loud music at home: Restaurants, bars and pubs are not allowed to play any live or loud music throughout the month. It’s important to be considerate of the level of noise when listening to music at home.