For most of us non-Muslim expats, our knowledge of what our Muslim brothers and sisters practice during Ramadan is often limited to their act of fasting. For us, we benefit from the traffic-less roads in the morning and the generous Iftar promo dinners at night. For the rest of the country and the Muslim world, the Ramadan season means a lot more than just fasting.
If you’ve ever wondered what is it that they do during the evening when the rest of us are just starting to get ready for bed, I spoke with one of my childhood friends, Mohammad, and asked him about what they do after the sun sets during Ramadan. Here are the general routines that they follow during Ramadan once they break their fast.
Iftar literally means “breakfast” in English and as we all know, this is the time where in Muslims are finally allowed to eat after a long day of fasting. Traditionally, they may break their fast by eating a number of dates but nowadays, consuming a full meal during Iftar has been practiced. It is also believed that feeding someone else during Iftar is a good act of charity, that’s why we would often see other people giving out boxes of food in the streets at this hour or sometimes, seeing a whole street filled with men eating together.
Iftar takes place during sunset, just as the call for Maghrib prayers begin. Muslims are supposed to eat first (whether light or heavy) before praying the Maghrib prayers. Afterwards, they may rest or eat again until Isha Prayers are called.
Isha Prayer and Tarawih Prayers
We’re all accustomed to the five times that Muslims pray every day of the year, however during Ramadan, there is a special set of prayers that are offered after Isha Prayer called the Tarawih.
The Tarawih is a lengthy prayer with at least 20 Raka’ats (Raka’at is the prescribed movements and words followed by Muslims while offering prayers to Allah). It is usually done in a mosque and led by an Imam (the leader of a mosque) but can also be done at home. Tarawih prayers are not considered obligatory but is rather, encouraged.
Suhoor refers to the “pre-dawn meal” and is basically the meal Muslims partake before Fajr prayers (which is usually called at around 3:30 in the morning, these days).There’s no exact, prescribed time for Suhoor to start, it’s just that it has to be before the sun rise prayers.
During Suhoor, it is encouraged that they choose to eat meals that can slowly release energy like pasta, rice or whole meal bread because this is the meal that can sustain them throughout the day. Drinking lots of water by this time is good too in order to stay hydrated. They should avoid salty dishes by Suhoor as this can drive them thirsty during the fasting hours.
After the Fajr prayers, they can head on to sleep until they have to go to work or go about their day in the morning. Muslims have shorter working hours during Ramadan, with most of them working only from 10AM to 3PM.
The great essence of Ramadan lies in Muslims strengthening their relations with family, friends and most importantly, to God through their fasting, prayers, acts of charity. Yes, there seems to be a lot of food every where at the moment and we experience certain “relaxations” at the work place due to less activities but lest we should become conscious of what the true spirit of Ramadan is and support our brothers and sisters during their Holy Month.
Ramadan Kareem everyone!