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Non-Muslims Guide to Ramadan

Ramadan 2009 started at dawn today, August 22. It’s my second year to experience the season of Ramadan since I moved to work here in the UAE. The shortened working hours for 30 days, the bountiful feasting at the end of Ramadan and the long vacation afterwards are indeed welcome treats. However, as a Christian and a resident of this Muslim country, I felt that my participation for this Muslim tradition should not focus on the merriment alone. Hence, as a sign of respect I gathered these facts about Ramadan to serve as a short guide for Non-Muslims like me.

photo credits: dgreetings.com

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month in Islamic calendar or lunar calendar, which is based on cycles of the moon phases. The Islamic calendar consists of 12 lunar months or a year consisting of 354 or 355 days.

What happens during Ramadan?

Everyday during this Holy Month, Muslims (who are able) must endure complete fasting during daylight. They abstain from eating, drinking, intimate conduct and evil acts. Fasting is meant to teach the Muslim patience, humility and spirituality. It is the time to cleanse oneself from impurities thru self-restraint and good deeds, and re-focus in their worship for Allah.

Fasting

Fasting begins before sunrise, when Muslims eat a light meal or “suhoor” in Islam, and ends at sunset. At the end of the fast, Muslims gather to eat their first meal. This gathering is called “Iftar.” The most popular way of breaking the fast is by eating a date or drinking some water.

Greetings

The traditional greetings during Ramadan are “Ramadan Mubarak” meaning “May God gives you a blessed Month,” and “Ramadan Kareem” meaning “May God gives you a generous month.”

Ramadan Symbols

Some symbolic decorations used during the month of Ramadan include:
  • the lantern – it signifies spiritual illumination
  • the cannon – it is used to sound the time for Iftar
  • the crescent moon and a star – it is the symbol of Islam

    Etiquette for Non-Muslims:

    Non-Muslims should be considerate and respectful of the fasting tradition of Muslims and must also observe the following (some of these are abided by law):

  • do not eat, drink or smoke in public
  • do not play loud music
  • do not wear revealing clothes
  • be patient – fasting is not a choice but an obligation for Muslims, respect this, and bear in mind that sometimes a Muslim may seem lightheaded, unable to concentrate and tired
  • remember that some shops and restaurants will not open during the day, instead will choose to open at night

    Ramadan Images, Wallpapers and Photographs

    These sites provide some cool images, wallpapers and photographs about Ramadan. Check them out!
  • Tinypic
  • Grafikdesign
  • Photobucket
  • CyArena Free Graphics and Comments

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