As Many of you probably know, the 16th November 2001 will be the start of a very important month. And one which Muslims all around are looking forward to...
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is a month for purifying ones faith, contemplation and worship for Muslims. It is believed the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven in this month.
Muslims fast during the daylight hours of this month. They are also forbidden from drinking, smoking and sexual relations during this time.
On each day of Ramadan, after the sun has set, the fast is broken with a prayer and a meal (Iftar) which, customarily is taken with friends and family, until the next day when fasting will begin again. If you find yourself lucky enough to be invited for this meal, accept. This is considered an honour and is a great experience.
During the day many Muslims will go to the Mosques to pray and study the Quran. Even those who are not so religious, become more in touch with there faith during this special time of year.
This is an excellent time to be travelling within a predominantly Muslim country. All though you are limited in what you do, in respect for their religion, and general efficiency tends to drop, you are compensated in witnessing and becoming absorbed into the fast.
At the end of the month, to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the fasting, a three day long holiday known as Id Al Fitr (meaning - feast of fast breaking) is held. Friends and family will congregate together for feasting and to pray. There are also festivals and fairs in many cities.
For those of you that will be observing this special month, it is important to be tactful and courteous with your behaviour. For example, eating, drinking and especially smoking in public (except in restaurants) during the day is very disrespectful, as is showing any form of affection like holding hands etc..
What you wear can also be considered offensive, more so during Ramadan than any other time of year. Conservative dress should be worn. If on one of our tours, please follow your tour leaders advice.
You should also note that alcohol will be in short supply, and bars in many hotels will be closed for the entire month. If you are on one of our cruises on the Egyptian Nile for example, alcohol will not be served from the bar, but you may bring aboard your own alcoholic beverages.
Business hours and opening times of shops, bazaars and tourist sites may well change as well as the general pace of life being a lot slower than is normal.
None of the points mentioned above are hindrances. In fact quite the opposite!
So enjoy Ramadan and please try to respect the Muslim religion.