Everything you need to know about spending the Holy Month in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
The dates: Ramadan began in June and will end on or around July 28 when Eid commences
The lowdown: Ramadan is the Islamic Holy Month of fasting (sawm) for Muslims. It is one of the five pillars of Islam so it is a must for anybody that is religious. It means as soon as the sun comes up fasters cannot eat, drink, smoke or even chew gum until iftar which is the moment the sun goes down and they can finally break their fast. In many countries, including Bahrain, this time is usually signalled by the firing of cannons.
The start of Ramadan in Bahrain is called by the moon-sighting committee in Saudi Arabia, as the first day coincides with the new moon. For this reason, the start date of Ramadan moves forward by around ten days every year and we cannot positively confirm the beginning and end until hours before (although it is generally predicted correctly and tends to always last 30 days).
What to expect: You’ll see many changes in the Bahrain lifestyle during Ramadan, as business hours are shorter, it becomes quieter during the days and the nights are particularly festive. Due to numerous restrictions such as eating and drinking in public during daylight hours, many non-fasters leave the country but we recommend sticking it out because it can be quite a lot of fun in the evenings with feasts, games and a wonderful community spirit that lasts the month.
Here we list the definitions of some of the most common (and perhaps foreign) words you’ll hear this month…
Iftar – the time when Muslims break their fast, customarily with a small portion of dates and water.
Suhoor – the meal before sunrise, either taken later in the night before bed or, instead, many Muslims get up in the small hours of the morning to have a quick snack.
Ghabga – a Bahraini word to describe late night gatherings during Ramadan.
Ramadan kareem – if you hear people say this, it means ‘happy’ or ‘generous Ramadan’. Say it to people yourself to be friendly.
Zakat – the practice of charitable giving that is one of the five pillars in Islam. While this is true at any time of year, people are particularly generous to the needy during Ramadan.
Taraweeh – the evening prayer performed by Muslims at night during the Holy Month.
Dos and don’ts
We give you a breakdown of the most important rules to remember during the Holy Month.
Don’t eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public from sunup to sundown. To do so is disrespectful of people who are fasting and can get you in trouble with the law.
Don’t expect a glass of grape with your meal when you do go out to restaurants because the sale of alcohol in hospitality venues and in shops is prohibited throughout the entire month.
Don’t sing and dance in public or play loud music in your car or home at any time. Ramadan is supposed to be a time of contemplation so disturbing anyone is considered very disrespectful. Live music is also banned at this time.
Do get into the spirit of generosity that increases at this time of year. There are many charitable and social drives you can get involved in.
Do be a good neighbour and colleague by respecting anyone who is fasting. Always ask first if a ‘faster’ is around before you eat or drink (not in public places) and don’t use the office kitchen to cook up any pungent lunches!
Do remember to cover up. Particularly at this time of year men and women can cause offense if too much flesh is showing so always make sure your shoulders, midriff and knees are covered at least.