Ramadan is Coming!

Ramadan is coming! Here are some 'fun facts' and advice from our Muslim colleagues at the U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran.

Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

  • In Saudi Arabia, eating, drinking and smoking in public during daylight hours is illegal
  • Roads and shopping centres are generally quiet by day and VERY busy at night
  • Take particular care on the roads just before sunset
  • If invited to iftar, accept! It is a great cultural experience
  • Greet Muslim colleagues with "Ramadan Kareem" (lit: Generous Ramadan) or "Ramadan Mubarak" (lit: Blessed Ramadan)

Traffic and Travel during Ramadan

  • From the last week of Ramadan until a few days after Eid, travel to Muslim countries, and particularly to Saudi Arabia, becomes congested
  • Flights in and out of the Gulf become especially congested during the second half or Ramadan
  • Particularly in the last 10 days of Ramadan many Muslims travel to Makkah to make Umrah (a pilgrimage outside Hajj)
  • Local traffic congestion is common just before iftar (at sunset) and at night

What is Ramadan?

  • Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri / Islamic calendar
  • The word Ramadan is derived from "ar-ramad" which means intense heat, dryness, scorched ground
  • Being a lunar calendar, the Hijri calendar is 11 to 12 days shorter than Gregorian calendar, therefore Ramadan is 11 to 12 days earlier every year
  • Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon
  • Ramadan continues until the next new moon is sighted, or a maximum of 30 days
  • The start of Ramadan may differ from one location to another depending on confirmed sightings of the moon
  • Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an (the holy book of Islam) was revealed to Prophet Mohammed.
  • For all Muslims it is a special month of fasting, repentance, increased prayer & increased charity
  • The month ends with the festival of Eid Al-Fitr, a day of celebration and gratitude
  • The fourth of five pillars or Islam

Common activities of Ramadan

  • Iftar: Breaking of the fast at sunset (coincides with Maghrib, the 4th daily prayer)
  • Sahoor: Light meal before dawn and the first prayer of the day
  • Ziarat: Social gatherings (visiting relatives, sharing food with neighbours, friends and the poor)
  • Tarawih: Optional prayers in the evening immediately after 5th prayer
  • Qira'at: Reading of the Qur'an during free time
  • Qiam: Optional late night prayers in the last 10 days

Fasting - Why?

  • The primary objective of fasting is to attain taqwâ
  • Taqwâ is the concept of "God consciousness"
  • Taqwâ is an Arabic word that comes from "al-Wiqaya" which means prevention and protection
  • Taqwâ therefore means to be aware of God and protect yourself against diverging from the path of God
  • Helps Muslims draw closer to God through increased recitation and reflection of the Qur'an and additional prayers/worship
  • Aids in increase of iman (faith) and ihsan (sincerity and righteousness) and removal of riyya' (showing off)
  • Aids in purification of the heart/soul and helps to improve one's character
  • Trains the person to do praiseworthy acts e.g. charity, kindness, generosity, patience and forgiveness
  • A fasting person experiences some of the hardships of the poor and hungry
  • Fasting begins at the break of dawn and ends at sunset
  • Refrain from food, drink and sexual intercourse during fasting hours
  • Depending on location and season, it can vary from 12 to 17 hours
  • Refrain from blameworthy thoughts and acts (eg: foul language, vain talk, hurtful behaviour) at all times
  • All Muslims except children, unhealthy adults (mentally or physically), adults travelling long distances, and women who are menstruating, in post-childbirth care, pregnant or breast-feeding.

American Citizen Services
Consulate General of the United States | Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Department of State | +966.013.330.3200 | [email protected]
Register at https://step.state.gov/step/

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