There’s barely a few hours left of Ramadan this year, but we thought we’d pause to consider what Ramadan is all about and what it’s like to be a non-Muslim traveling in the Muslim world during this most sacred month.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. It’s the time during which the Qu’ran was revealed to Muhammad. During Ramadan, all able-bodied adults abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and all physical and moral profanity during the day.
Muslims fast from dawn to dusk to practice humility, patience, and sacrifice and to fulfill Sawm, the Fourth Pillar of Islam. Many claim it’s a cleansing experience, one that helps Muslims focus on the needs of others and increase their charitable contributions. Others feel Ramadan has an equalizing effect on the community; taxi driver and royalty alike must fast and may be more hungry, grouchy, and lethargic than normal. Ramadan unifies the community.
Non-Muslims need not fast during Ramadan but it’s important to respect the customs and faith of those around you. In some nations, such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, Ramadan may barely be noticeable, while in more conservative nations such as Libya, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, much is changed during this time.
Keep these tips in mind while traveling in the Muslim world during Ramadan: