Before I moved to the Middle East I had the vaguest sense of what Ramadan was, a slight understanding of Eid and that was about it. To be honest most of my knowledge about Eid came from the fact that they changed the bus route home when I lived in Manchester, so it diverted round Rusholme where the heart of the Eid celebrations were.
Fast forward 10 years and we arrived in the Middle East where now we not only understand the physical acts undertaken in Ramadan, but also abide and respect them when out in public.
And Ramadan is approaching fast. This year Ramadan is expected to start on the evening of Friday 26th May here in Qatar.
Ramadan is a sacred time for Muslims and a more in-depth look into daily life as a fasting Muslim during Ramadan can be found in Zeyna’s Ramadan Diaries, both 2015 and 2016, I am looking forward to reading her 2017 diaries. Similarly, as I have fond memories of the Christmases of my childhood, Shahira remembers the Ramadan of her childhood.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and begins at the sighting of the new moon (hilal). Once hilal has been sighted, fasting begins.
From sunrise to sunset for the month nothing passes your lips. No eating, drinking or smoking. There are exemptions to this rule, those who are ill, elderly or pregnant, alongside children, need not fast.
For Muslims, it is a time of love, reflection and charity. A chance to re-connect with your religion.
What does Ramadan mean for a non-Muslim in Qatar
As we are not a Muslim family, strictly speaking we will not be observing Ramadan within the confines of our home.
However, when out in public both myself and my husband will be complying with fasting laws, and laws they are as it is illegal to be seen to eating or drinking in public.
That means complying with the strict fast that is undertaken during the Holy Month from sunrise to sunset.
We will only be able to eat and drink in the comfort of our own home, or those of our friends during daylight hours.
However when the fast is broken, well that is a different story…
Breaking the fast; an Iftar feast
Iftar literally means “breaking the fast”
Traditionally a fast is broken with a few sips of water and some dates, as it is said the Prophet Muhammad did 1400 years ago, before participating in sunset prayers.
Following this the Iftar feast may begin.
Iftar is one of my favourite things about Ramadan. The coming together of family and friends to enjoy a sumptuous feast. I mean, what’s not to love?
Living in a Muslim country also means that Iftar is the highlight of the month of Ramadan, with each hotel offering marvellous Iftar tents all through the month. Including one of my personal favourites, the Ritz Carlton.
With something for everyone the Ritz Carlton is always looking to exceed expectations, back in November we headed to their Superhero brunch, filled with delights and squeals of laughter from my boys. Except for the bit where Superman made the two year old cry….
I know that with their attention to detail their Iftar tent would be a spectacular feast for both the eyes and the bellies and I was looking forward to attending their pre-Ramadan presentation.
Then, children happened, and managed to pass on whatever illness they had to me that morning so I wasn’t able to go.
However, luckily for me, I was able to see exactly how good an Iftar the Ritz Carlton had put on as I asked for photos from the evening.
And then I cursed the sickness bug my children gave me because it LOOKED amazing.
I can’t wait to head down in Ramadan to enjoy the Iftar feast.
The Ritz Carlton Iftar