As we look forward to celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, we wish all of our Muslim families in the community a blessed month at this special time of the year. It is indeed a privilege for many of us who are not Muslim to also live in an Islamic country and experience with our families, friends and colleagues this special time. For many members of our community, this is not their first experience of Ramadan. However, we have had many new families joining us during the past year, so it may be prudent to share some information in order that everyone observes the true spirt of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic year has twelve lunar months totaling 355 days with each day starting on a new moon. Once the new moon is sighted later this week, Ramadan will be called. As a general rule, Ramadan begins ten days earlier each year compared to the Gregorian calendar used in the West. The Islamic New Year also advances by 10 days per year.
During Ramadan, Muslim friends will fast each day from dawn until sunset. This means that people will not eat or drink between daylight hours. Faithful believers rise early in the morning and take a meal called Suhoor before dawn and the first prayer call. The next meal is called Iftar and is taken after the sunset meal. During Ramadan, families and friends get together to share food and each other’s company during the evenings with a reflection on prayer and charity. For those families who are not Muslim, we should respect the Islamic culture and refrain from eating or drinking in public places during the day. Also, during Ramadan, we should refrain from playing loud music and dress conservatively at all times. Ramadan is also a month of peace and serenity, so showing patience and tolerance is very important. Many of these points obviously apply throughout the year but especially during the holy month.
For the new families who have recently joined us, I hope that you enjoy your first experience of this special time in the UAE. For our families who will be observing Ramadan, we wish you Ramadan Kareem!