For anyone planning on trying Ramadan abroad, whether for the experience of a travelling Ramadan, or out of necessity in times of political unrest in the Middle East - you're not alone in making Ramadan a season of travel.
Although Muslims habitually stay at home for Ramadan, living the holy month abroad is becoming more common in an increasingly mobile age. This year, Lebanon's minister for tourism even made a public appeal for Ramadan visitors to consider the arguably less obvious choice, while traditional tourism hot-spot for Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, has started up a tourist campaign to open up the Holy Kingdom to non-religious visitors too.
Ramadan 2012 falls in the peak summer season of travel, so inevitably a lot of Muslims may spend a touristic Ramadan.
During hours of fasting, the experience from region to region is similar, but the true character or essence of a Ramadan time is manifested as the city comes alive for Ramadan nights.
The Iftars (or break-of-fast-meal) makes a central platform of the holy month, with a big emphasis placed on the fine food on the table.
Traditionally targetted hotspots for the religious tourism of Ramadan would be Mecca and Medina.
What is Ramadan:
What is the history of Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. The term Ramadan literally means scorching in Arabic. It was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, frequently translated as "the Night of Power.
Observance of Ramadan is mandated in the Quran, Surah 2, Ayah 185:
âThe month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.â
What are the dates of Ramadan?
Because the cycle of the lunar calendar does not match the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan shifts by approximately 11 days each year. In 2011, Ramadan began on August 1st. In 2012 Ramadan is likely to begin on July 20th.
The ending of Ramadan is marked by the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, which takes place either 29 or 30 days after the beginning of the month. On Eid ul-Fitr, morning prayers are followed by feasting and celebration among family and friends. This year Eid ul-Fitr will most probably fall on Sunday, August 19th.
What are the daily fasting requirements?
During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims fast from dawn to sunset with no food or water. Before sunrise many Muslims have the Suhur or predawn meal. At sunset families and friends gather for Iftar which is the meal eaten by Muslims to break the fast. Many Muslims begin the meal by eating dates as the Prophet used to do.
This ritual fast known as, Sawm, is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse.
To find the specific times for Ramadan fasting, click over to this helpful tool provided by IslamiCity that allows you to calculate prayer schedules -- including sunup and sundown -- by entering your city or zip code.
What are the expectations towards charity?
Charity is an important part of Ramadan. The fast emphasizes self-sacrifice and using the experience of hunger to grow in empathy with the hungry. During Ramadan, Muslim communities work together to raise money for the poor, donate clothes and food, and hold iftar dinners for the less fortunate.
What scriptural study do Muslims take part in?
Many Muslims use Ramadan to read the entire Quran or read the Quran daily. Many communities divide the Quran into daily reading segments that conclude on Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.
Can non-Muslims participate?
Non-Muslims are free to participate in Ramadam. Many non-Muslims fast and even pray with their Muslim friends or family members. Non-Muslims are often invited to attend prayer and iftar dinners.
Those wishing to be polite to someone who is fasting for Ramadan may greet them with Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem, which mean Have a Blessed or Generous Ramadan.
Should Muslims with diabetes fast?
Fasting during Ramadan is discouraged for patients with diabetes by the American Diabetes Association.
âIn keeping with this, a large epidemiological study conducted in 13 Islamic countries on 12,243 individuals with diabetes who fasted during Ramadan showed a high rate of acute complications.â
However, the study says this was not conclusive. Many diabetic patients fasted with no complications. Patients with diabetes should work with their doctors to figure out a strategy if they choose to fast.
What is the 'goal' of Ramadan?
In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed.
Do all Muslims take part in Ramadan fasting?
Most Muslims believe Ramadan fasting is mandatory, but there are some groups that do not. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, people who are seriously sick, travelers, or those at health risk should not fast. Children that have not gone through puberty are also not required to fast during the month Ramadan.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has launched an informative online guide for those wishing to visit the emirate during Ramadan.
Structured in an easy-to-browse section under visit AbuDhabi.ae, Abu Dhabi's official destination website, the e-guide gives visitors useful information and tips on the Ramadan experience in eight languages: English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.
Travellers to the emirate are invited to check these pages for any questions on Ramadan etiquette or to find out how Abu Dhabi's life is transformed during this month. The e-guide speaks to all visitors and covers a variety of topics from basic information such as, when Ramadan takes place and what it means, to explanations of 'Suhour' and 'Iftar'.
The e-guide also gives visitors an insight into how they can capture the Ramadan spirit and describes why the Holy Month is an ideal time to visit Abu Dhabi for those interested in the emirate's culture. Whether it's a visit to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which updates its complimentary guided tours to include insights into the practices of the Holy Month, or a visit to the annual Ramadan '&' Eid Festival at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, whether it's socialising and trying special foods at an Iftar in one of the specially erected Ramadan tents, or taking advantage of the special promotions and late shopping hours, travellers to Abu Dhabi will be able to experience a rich and colourful, yet different view of the emirate.
Conceived with travellers' needs in mind, the Ramadan e-guide is aimed to add to the overall 'mission' of visitabudhabi.ae which is to act as a one-stop-shop for tourists who want to explore the emirate, giving them easy access to interact, in any of eight languages, with extensive, dynamic information on Abu Dhabi's attractions and experiences, culture and heritage, and events and recreation activities.
The consumer-orientated destination website also features a comprehensive hotel search option, which aggregates live deals and room availability from over 50 booking engines, and allows visitors to find real-time information prior to their decision to book.
The website is also complemented by the destination's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google +, Flickr and Pinterest), inviting travellers to become active contributors to the destination, to post, comment, get inspired and share their experience, before, during and after their visit.
warned people suffering from diabetes to avoid fasting.
âA diabetic must not fast and the same is not ordered by the âQuran'. Fasting could be fatal for diabetics,â the doctor said.
Hotels and restaurants were closed in Srinagar Saturday except those catering to the tourists presently visiting the Valley.
âMost locals prefer to eat with their families during Ramadan, which is why very few locals visit hotels and restaurants during the holy month,â said Abdul Hamid, manager of a hotel in the city.