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Ramadan For Non Muslims

This is becoming a tradition. I wrote the first Ramadan for Non Muslims post in 207, and repeated it last year. As Ramadan moves inexorably into the hottest months of the year, the sacrifice only increases. Ramadan is slated to start this year on August 22, but that will be determined by the moonsighting committee; those who watch for the very first glimmer of the thinnest crescent moon of the lunar month of Ramadan.

Already, stores are increasing their supplies of specialty foods, which includes, to my amusement, oatmeal, which I must eat, and I detest. There are also increased supplies of nuts and candied fruits, eggs and creams and fabulous desserts and exotic fruits. Little lambies are not long for this earth, and cows and grown sheep are not far behind. This is not the season for killing the fatted fig.

My first Ramadan ever, in Tunisia in 1979, I remember they had bananas – it was the only time all year we saw bananas, real Chiquita bananas, a boat brought them in. On the other hand, the night I had a dinner party, eggs totally disappeared, and cream, all bought up by what my friends call “the Ramadaners.”

Imagine, if you can, an entire month of Advent and Christmas. Observant Moslems fast every day, from dawn to sunset, and gather with family and friends to celebrate and feast every night. Some women have a new dress for every day of Ramadan. The tailors are crazy; this and the Eid al Kebir provide them with guaranteed income and their busiest time of the year.

Most Westerners don’t understand Ramadan. I wrote the original article to try to explain Ramadan to them, that the season is as holy to them as our Lent and Easter are to us. Ramadan was the month when The Qur’an was transmitted to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. Most Moslems try to read through the entire Qur’an at least one time during each Ramadan, and then many go to Mekka on the Hajj at the end of Ramadan. I have given you references to both of the original articles, because as is my great joy on this blog, my readers filled in a lot of blanks, and gave us a lot of information that I didn’t have. The comments at the end of the two articles are better than the original article, thanks to my readers.

Please, if you have anything to add, ahlen wa sahlen, you are welcome. It is a joy to learn from you.

First Ramadan for Non Muslims + comments

Second Ramadan for Non Muslims + comments

Ramadan started last night; it means that the very thinnest of crescent moons was sighted by official astronomers, and the lunar month of Ramadan might begin. You might think it odd that people wait, with eager anticipation, for a month of daytime fasting, but the Muslims do – they wait for it eagerly.

A friend explained to me that it is a time of purification, when your prayers and supplications are doubly powerful, and when God takes extra consideration of the good that you do and the intentions of your heart. It is also a time when the devil cannot be present, so if you are tempted, it is coming from your own heart, and you battle against the temptations of your own heart. Forgiveness flows in this month, and blessings, too.

We have similar beliefs – think about it. Our holy people fast when asking a particular boon of God. We try to keep ourselves particularly holy at certain times of the year.

In Muslim countries, the state supports Ramadan, so things are a little different. Schools start later. Offices are open fewer hours. The two most dangerous times of the day are the times when schools dismiss and parents are picking up kids, and just before sunset, as everyone rushes to be home for the breaking of the fast, which occurs as the sun goes down. In olden days, there was a cannon that everyone in the town could hear, that signalled the end of the fast. There may still be a cannon today – in Doha there was, and we could hear it, but if there is a cannon in Kuwait, we are too far away, and can’t hear it.

When the fast is broken, traditionally after the evening prayer, you take two or three dates, and water or special milk drink, a meal which helps restore normal blood sugar levels and takes the edge off the fast. Shortly, you will eat a larger meal, full of special dishes eaten only during Ramadan. Families visit one another, and you will see maids carrying covered dishes to sisters houses and friends houses – everyone makes a lot of food, and shares it with one another. When we lived in Tunisia, we would get a food delivery maybe once a week – it is a holy thing to share, especially with the poor and we always wondered if we were being shared with as neighbors, or shared with as poor people! I always tried to watch what they particularly liked when they would visit me, so I could sent plates to their houses during Ramadan.

Just before the sun comes up, there is another meal, Suhoor, and for that meal, people usually eat something that will stick to your ribs, and drink extra water, because you will not eat again until the sun goes down. People who can, usually go back to bed after the Suhoor meal and morning prayers. People who can, sleep a lot during the day, during Ramadan. Especially as Ramadan moves into the hotter months, the fasting, especially from water, becomes a heavier responsibility.

And because it is a Muslim state, and to avoid burdening our brothers and sisters who are fasting, even non-Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, touching someone of the opposite sex in public, even your own husband (not having sex in the daytime is also a part of fasting), smoking is forbidden, and if you are in a car accident and you might be at fault, the person might say “I am fasting, I am fasting” which means they cannot argue with you because they are trying to maintain a purity of soul. Even chewing gum is an offense. And these offenses are punishable by a heavy fine – nearly $400 – or a stay in the local jail.

Because I am not Muslim, there may be other things of which I am not aware, and my local readers are welcome to help fill in here. As for me, I find it not such a burden; I like that there is a whole month with a focus on God. You get used to NOT drinking or eating in public during the day, it’s not that difficult. The traffic just before (sunset) Ftoor can be deadly, but during Ftoor, traffic lightens dramatically (as all the Muslims are breaking their fast) and you can get places very quickly! Stores have special foods, restaurants have special offerings, and the feeling in the air is a lot like Christmas. People are joyful!

August 21, 2009 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Doha, Eid, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Qatar, Shopping, Spiritual | 14 Comments

Hotel Suq al Waqif Ramadan Offering

Ramadan Kareem from Hotel Souq Waqif!

As the Muslim world celebrates the holy month of Ramadan, Almaharah Seafood Restaurant commemorate with the holy festivity.

Come and be our guest as Almaharah Seafood Restaurant offers a special and unique buffet meal that will surely make your visit memorable.

For inquiries you can call 441-5959 or see the attached for additional information.


August 21, 2009 Posted by | Doha, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Marketing, Qatar, Ramadan | 3 Comments