Guide to Ramadan & EID
The holy month of Ramadan occurs every year, and to help out our membership we’ve developed a guide to everything Ramadan, and help you with things you can and can’t do.
Ramadan 2019 is said to fall on the 4th May and go until the 5th June, but officials have not stated the actual date yet, so this is just a close prediction. Fasting hours are set to exceed thirteen hours each day.
What is Ramadan?
It’s a special time in the Islamic Calendar, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for approximately 30 days. Muslims from around the world take part in this event, and it is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. The dates change annually as they’re determined by the Islamic Lunar Calendar. Often the start and end of Ramadan will be declared the day before.
When is Ramadan? On or around Saturday 4 May to Wednesday 5 June 2019
When is Eid al-Fitr? On or around Wednesday 5 June to Thursday 6 June 2019
When is Eid al-Adha? On or around Monday 12 August to Wednesday 14 August 2019
*Subject to change in line with sighting of the moon
What is Eid and why are there two?
Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are the main two annual Islamic celebrations. Eid al-Fitr translates as the ‘festival of breaking the fast’ and happens immediately after Ramadan, with festivity, day-time feasts and family gatherings. Customarily, family and friends dress up in new Eid clothes and visit each other’s houses bearing gifts (traffic will increase in the days leading up to this, as people hurry to get new clothes, haircuts, henna and buy all the ingredients for their feasts). Many families will also visit the poor and needy in their own communities to make sure they have enough food and water to celebrate. Charity is known as zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, and is particularly significant during Ramadan and the Eids.
Eid al-Adha is the second celebration in the year and translates as the ‘festival of sacrifice.’ That’s just what it is; traditionally during this time, animals like sheep and goats are slaughtered. It’s approximately 70 days after the end of Ramadan, and marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (another pillar of Islam). For many, it’s required to do the slaughter yourself and is often seen as a rite of passage for Muslim boys. Traditionally, one-third of the meat is kept for the family, another third is given to friends and relatives, and the last third is given to the less fortunate. Both Eids are national public holidays that typically last three days (often longer for some sectors), so expect government departments, shops and businesses to be closed.
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 or friends for a day or two and break the fast together at the time of iftar.
Impress your Muslim colleagues and friends or simply stop a stranger in the street and rattle off a few of these (reasonably) easy to use phrases during Ramadan:
Ramadan mubarak = Blessed Ramadan
Ramadan kareem = Happy / generous Ramadan
Iftar shahy = Have a good iftar
Mubarak aleik al shahr = May you get the blessings of the month
Kil aam wa inta fee kheir = May each year pass and you be well
As Ramadan is a holy month, there is an etiquette which people should follow to ensure that they do not offend anyone or do anything against the customs of the UAE. Here are some things to do, and things not to do:
Do… dress appropriately. Dubai already has guidelines in place for dress, especially in public areas such as malls and parks. Be especially considerate of these during Ramadan. Men and women should wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees.
Do… respect those around you. If you’re not fasting, be considerate and mindful of others who are.
Do… try to avoid the roads at sunset, as they will be busier, since people who are fasting are likely to be travelling at this time to attend iftar. Travel earlier or later if you can.
Do… accept invitations to iftar. Aside from being a wonderful way to experience the UAE’s culture, it’s polite to accept. Do take a small gift for your host, such as a box of dates.
Do… use Ramadan greetings such as Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak.
Do… be charitable. A big part of Ramadan is kindness and helping others. There are lots of official charities in Dubai and causes around the city for you to get involved with.
Don’t… eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public during daylight hours. This includes on the street, in your car, at the ofﬁce (check your own ofﬁce rules) and any other public spots. Breaking this rule is legally punishable.
Don’t… play loud music in public. If you’re in your car, keep the volume of the radio down. Ramadan is a contemplative time, and you should be mindful of disturbing others.
Don’t… use offensive language or gestures. This isn’t something you should make a habit of anyway, but it’s particularly important to refrain from this during Ramadan.
Don’t… smoke in public areas. If your workplace has an outside, public smoking area, be aware that you will need to change your routine.
Don’t… wear provocative clothing. It is recommended that both men and women dress conservatively during the month of Ramadan. Not doing so may offend those who are fasting. Individuals must refrain from wearing revealing and/or tight clothing and at the very least ensure shoulders and knees are well covered.
Are there any exceptions where it is acceptable to publicly break the fast?
Generally, fasting is not recommended to people who suffer from medical conditions or women who are pregnant. However, the same rules apply to them as well – not to eat or drink in public places and to use designated screened-off areas in public that are well hidden from view.
Although it varies by industry, many businesses will have different opening and closing times, including shopping malls, grocery stores, cinemas and more. Double check times before you head out to avoid disappointment.
Hag Al Leylah
In the UAE, the 14th day of Ramadan is known as Hag Al Leylah, a unique Gulf children’s holiday. It’s known by different names throughout the region but customarily on this day children don traditional clothes (embroidered vests and caps for boys and embroidered veils and dresses for girls) and head out to collect sweets, nuts and coins in special cloth bags, while singing traditional songs. Many shops and supermarkets will also offer specially decorated party packs and baskets. It’s a great way for non-native kids to learn something about the local culture and have fun doing it while making new friends.
We hope you enjoyed this guide and found it informative! Ramadan kareem.