Ramadan is an important time in the Islamic Calendar when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for approximately 29 to 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon. Fasting forms part of the 5 pillars of Islam. The dates change annually as they’re determined by the annual Islamic Calendar which is dependent on the sighting of a new moon – for many Muslims, from Saudi Arabia. The start and end of Ramadan will be declared the day before.
What is iftar and suhoor?
Iftar is the meal to break the fast after sunset. Typically, people will enjoy dates, dried apricots and Ramadan juices, before heading to evening prayer. After that, large meals are the norm, usually with family and friends. Suhoor is a meal taken just before sunrise, before the day of fasting starts. Many hotels host smaller buffets, traditional activities and more to celebrate until the small hours of the morning.
Can non-Muslims get involved?
Definitely. In the Gulf region many iftar and suhoor events are set up all over the country as a way to bring the entire community together. Even if you haven’t been fasting, you are still welcome to join. Here are a few ways you can get involved.
- Exchange Ramadan greetings, especially at the beginning of the month. The word ‘Kareem’ in the phrase ‘Ramadan Kareem’ is the equivalent to ‘generous’, so the expression means ‘Wish you generous Ramadan’.
- Get into the charitable spirit by donating to Ramadan camps, care packages and other charity organisations.
- Fast along with your Muslim colleagues for a day or two and break the fast together at the time of iftar.