Guide to Ramadan in the UAE

Ramadan 3

Confused about Ramadan? Here’s everything you need to know about the Holy Month.

What is Ramadan?

It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the most holy. It marks the time when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). As well as being a time for prayer and reflection, it’s also a time to cleanse past sins and to focus on Allah through good deeds.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan? 

 The Arabic word for fasting is ‘sawm’, which translates as ‘to refrain’. During the Holy Month, Muslims are required to spend their daylight hours in a complete fast. As well as abstaining from eating and drinking they must also abstain from smoking and other physical needs. Along with that, Sawn is also a time for purifying the soul and avoiding bad thoughts, actions and words. Fasting is about deprivation, in Islam the fast is intended to help Muslims learn about self-discipline and restraint, and to enable them to empathise with those who have less than they do.

Does everyone in the UAE have to fast during Ramadan? 

No. Non-Muslims aren’t required to fast. They are, however, required to behave sensitively throughout the month. That means no eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours.

Muslims are all required to fast, with the exception of young children, pregnant women and the elderly and infirm, due to possible health complications. Women on their monthly cycle, those who are travelling or suffering from illness are also exempt. If there’s a temporary break in the fast for any reason, Muslims are required to make up the missing days after Ramadan.

Are the rules regarding dress different during the Holy Month?

Yes. It’s recommended that everyone dresses conservatively during the month of Ramadan. There shouldn’t be any revealing or tight clothing and shoulders, knees and chests (at the very least) need to be well covered. Ignoring the rules of dress may offend those who are fasting.

Am I allowed to listen to music?

People in general must refrain from listening to music during the month. That means music levels must be kept down to a minimum when you’re driving. Blaring out music may offend those who are fasting. Listening to music on your smartphone or iPod with headphones is fine.

What’s Iftar and Suhour?

As fasting takes place between sunrise and sunset, just before sunrise Muslims share a meal called Suhour. After this nothing must pass their lips until sunset, when the fast is usually broken by eating a date and drinking some water. Then prayers are said and a full meal, named Iftar, is eaten. Iftar brings people together. Most people break the fast with friends and families.

Are Ramadan hours different?

It varies depending on the industry, but many businesses do have different opening and closing times, including the malls, supermarkets and cinemas. Be sure to double check times before heading out to avoid disappointment.

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