Alhamdulillah, today mark the first day (27 May 2017) of the blessed month of Ramadan. This is the month where Muslims all over the world observe ‘fasting’ or ‘sawm.’ Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn till dusk. Muslims also abstain from sexual activities. “Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year.” (http://www.islamicity.org/10254/about-fasting/, Accessed on 27 May 2017). In addition to that, “avoiding immoral behavior (for example backbiting) and anger and showing compassion is part of the requirements of the fasting.” (http://www.islamicity.org/10254/about-fasting/, Accessed on 27 May 2017).
Some useful sites on Ramadan:
- Ramadan Ready Kit
- Ramadan 2017: Why is it so important for Muslims?
- How Jeddawis welcomed Ramadan in the old days
- Ramadan in Balad (historic center in Jeddah)
- Ramadan 2017: All you need to know
Over here, there are some things to note:
- Working hours are shortened for Muslim employees
- Operating hours for shopping malls, banks, offices (some) and shops are changed; some would start around 2 pm; others would start around 5 pm. All of them would be closed for prayer times, iftar (breaking of fast) and would open after isya and Taraweeh prayers ( around 1030pm) and would continue until the wee early morning hours (around 3 am) the next day.
- Isya’ and Taraweeh prayers start 2 hours after the breaking fast.
Information about Ramadan is shared throughout our campus community. For non-Muslim and first-timers experiencing Ramadan here, a number of talks, activities and information sessions are conducted to inform them about the meaning of Ramadan and what do Muslims do during this blessed month. Community areas are open till early morning. A whole range of activities is organized for the family and individuals living on campus. Our community is also treated to a whole range of Ramadan treats and not forgetting the Arabic coffee.
We have spent close to 8 years over here. There are many beautiful things that we have experienced during Ramadan. The spirit of hospitality and generosity are prevalent. During this time, neighbors exchange food just before Iftar. (Community spirit). Being an international community, we got to taste the different kind of food from all around the world.
It is also a time to increase our spiritual activities and to get closeness to God. Our Grand Mosque on campus is always a hustle and bustle of activity during this month as congregational prayers plus the Qiyam (early morning prayers) are conducted. Muslims would also spend time in the mosque reading the Holy Quran. (especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan). Muslims also visit the 2 holy cities of Makkah and Madinah during this time.
Even then, we still miss Ramadan back home in Singapore. We miss going to the food bazaar to buy food for breaking fast, miss breaking fast with family and Singaporean friends (though we occasionally meet with friends over here for Iftar) and the Taraweeh prayers at our local mosques (plus attending the nightly Ramadan sermons that constantly remind us of life as a true believer).