Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and lasts a full lunar month. The start of Ramadan is signalled by the new moon. The sighting of the next new moon marks the end of Ramadan and the start of the three day Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The lunar calendar is 11-12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar… therefore Ramadan moves forward by 10-11 days per year.
Fasting the full month of Ramadan is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam, as Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an (the holy book of Islam) was revealed.
Ramadan is special to millions of Muslims worldwide and you will typically see greetings such as “Ramadan Mubarak” (Blessed Ramadan) exchanged at the beginning of the month. This holy period requires all adult Muslims to abstain from food, drink and tobacco between sunrise and sunset, and to have a special focus on repentance, increased prayer and increased charity.
Essentially it is a month of training used to discipline and prepare oneself for the remainder of the year.
Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid-al-Fitr, a day of celebration and gratitude.
Sohour: Meal before dawn and the first prayer of the day.
Iftar: The breaking of the fast at sunset (coincides with the fourth daily prayer).
Garangao: 14th day of Ramadan – giving of sweets/nuts to children after sunset.
Salat Al-Tarawih: Evening prayers.
Salat Al-Qiam: Late night prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Eid-al Fitr: The feast marking the end of Ramadan.
Ghabga: A traditional celebration of Ramadan that takes the form of a dinner invitation. It comes between Fotour (breaking fast) and Sohour (just before dawn); in other words, usually around 11pm or 12am. For many people it replaces Sohour as a meal.
Messaher: An old tradition in the more populous districts of Doha. The job of Messaher is to wake people just two hours before dawn, in time for them to have their last meal, or Sohour, before the break of a new day.
Fasting is compulsory for Muslims, so the non-Muslims among us will respect and support their colleagues by not eating, drinking or smoking in public. This includes the office and retail environments, from sunrise to sunset. Gum chewing is also regarded as eating.
People must not eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours in other public places, including the Corniche, malls, etc. Penalties may apply! (There are some exceptions to this, for example children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and unwell people).
Modest attire (for example, avoiding short skirts, bare arms, etc.) is particularly important during the period of Ramadan.
Please be understanding that this is the most special month in the Muslim calendar.
Avoid meetings with Muslim colleagues which include lunch or which take place after 4:00 pm.
Be open to having meetings scheduled at very different times than usual – for example, late at night.
Expect traffic jams just before Iftar (breaking of fast).
Accept that Muslim colleagues may become tired in the daytime – increasingly so as Ramadan advances.
Expect that many people will extend their Eid holiday and take vacation.
Be prepared that the working hours of many government departments are between 8:00 am and 1:00 pm during Ramadan.
If you’re invited to share Iftar and Ghabga, try and make it...it’s fun!