The holy month of Ramadan is usually associated with performing the taraweeh prayer, witnessing the crescent moon, social connection, dieting, and enjoying iftar meals. All these associations are valid and encouraged. There are some behaviors however, that are to be avoided or not practiced frequently during the holy month, in Al Sharqiyah region in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or any Muslim or Arab country you may spend Ramadan in.
Some of the key four points are as follows:
Refrain from harsh language!
Fasting is an act of worship that not only applies to abstinence from food and drink, but also applies to speech. It is common that those who are fasting experience fatigue and exhaustion and as a result they may be short tempered and lose patience quickly. As a bystander, or someone who may want to experience fasting during Ramadan for moral support or the cultural experience it is advisable to exercise patience, and not speak ill in front or in the absence of those who are fasting. Refrain from using harsh language, cursing, especially when provoked, and avoid mocking the act of fasting as it is a form of spiritual and physical obedience and connection to God. If you have any questions about Ramadan or fasting, you will find that many are happy to guide you and provide you with the information you need.
Avoid consuming food and drink in front of those who are fasting
As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do! When visiting a Muslim country, you will notice that people avoid restaurants, food trucks, and fruit and vegetable markets during the daytime. Very few visit grocery stores and supermarkets prior to the sunset prayer (indication to break the fast) when they are required to break their fast. It is also not likely that you will witness anyone sipping water in a public place prior to the sunset prayer. Generally, out of courtesy you may consume food and drink if you must out of necessity (if you are ill, or elderly) or if you are a non-Muslim, in obscure and private locations.
Refrain from encouraging those who are fasting to break their fast
You may find some individuals in your community at work or in school who are fasting, and exhibit signs of dehydration or exhaustion which are more obvious especially in the first week of fasting during Ramadan. Do not be alarmed as this is a usual process that the body gets accustomed to throughout the month. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is more rewarding and slightly easier than fasting during any other time in the year. Avoid suggesting that they break their fast, you may do so in a few situations: You may fear that they will faint or die, they have been instructed by their physician to break their fast but went against that instruction, they may be traveling, or a young child who is adamant to fast. You may remind them of other options to make up for their fast, such as charity, or making it up another time of the year when the hours are shorter and the days cooler.
Additionally, there are items you should avoid offering to those who are fasting that may break the fast and you may not be aware of, such as lozenges, chewing gum, and others.
Always plan your visits
Al Sharqiyah region is well known for its active social scene during the holy month of Ramadan. Visiting family and friends, iftar gatherings, and pre-Eid visits in addition to traditional celebrations such as Qergaia’an, Ghabga, and others can carry out throughout the month. It is advisable to always plan your visit especially if it is in the late afternoon prior to the sunset prayer or after taraweeh prayer later in the evening and especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan. You will always find that people will welcome you in their homes, however it is always best to check prior to planning your visit. Additionally, the last 10 days of Ramadan are usually reserved for more dedicated worship.
It is customary to be adorned in traditional garb, such as thobe al nashl that children wear and althobe for Qerqaia’an celebration as it is not expected to wear formal clothing. Adults would wear Jalabiyat which are very fashionable and popular.
These are the four key points to remember when spending the holy month of Ramadan in Al Sharqiyah. Have you experienced any situation relating to these points in the past?
Source: W7Worldwide Marketing Communications Consultancy Agency (May 2019)