Ramadan ( The Holy Month For All Muslims )
Ramadan is one of the greatest traditions in Egypt, and certainly considered the most important month of the year. This holy month begins when Muslims see the Hilal, or crescent, signifying the new month
Ramadan is one of the greatest traditions in Egypt, and certainly considered the most important month of the year. This holy month begins when Muslims see the Hilal, or crescent, signifying the new month. During this time, Muslims fast from the Fagr to the Maghreb (approximately 3:00am to 7:00pm). Muslims break the fast with the Iftar (which we will discuss in detail at a later point) Fasting during Ramadan does not simply mean not eating food or drinking water, but is considered to be more of a time of personal reflection and self-improvement. For this reason, those participating in Ramadan may also make several Ramadan resolutions, often including things like (1) dressing more conservatively and (2) refraining from the use of foul language and dealing with people in more respectful, friendly ways. Who has to fast, you ask? Small children, the elderly, and those who are sick do not have to fast during Ramadan. If someone is fasting and they become ill, they are permitted to break the fast for the sake of their health.
Reading the Qur’an:-
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an before the end of Ramadan. Since there are 30 chapters in the Qur’an, this usually means that Muslims will read one chapter of the Qur’an per day for 30 days during the month of Ramadan.
The most important night of Ramadan, and arguably the holiest night of the year, is Laylat Al-Qadr. During this night, which is known to have occurred during the last 10 days of Ramadan, is the night when the Qur’an was believed to be revealed to the prophet Mohammed. Specifically, it is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Al-Iftar (breaking the fast):-
One of the central themes of Ramadan isn’t fasting, as many would think, but rather the time spent with family after the Iftar. The Iftar (first meal of the day) begins after the Maghreb (evening prayer) and Muslims usually begin by consuming three small dates following by a rather large feast. This time of day is usually spent with family or in large public gatherings. For those people who are not wealthy enough to do such things, there are large tables of food in the streets with the purpose of feeding the poor. While originally intended for the poor only, these tables have become quick stops for any Egyptian on the go and looking for a quick bite of food before returning home. As such, the month of Ramadan focuses on spending time with family and acknowledging the hardships of the poor.
Foods during Ramadan:-
Many foods are also present solely during the month of Ramadan, adding to the already festive spirit of the country. These foods include stuffed grape leaves, turkey, pigeon, Kunafa , Katayaf, and a variety of pickled vegetables. There are also a variety of drinks that are available throughout the summer but are especially favored during Ramadan, including Tamr Hindy, Sobaya, and Kamr Aldeen.
Two traditions that are specifically unique to Egypt is the custom of hanging a Fanoos (lantern) outside of the house and the Masaharati. Every year the Fanoos takes on a new, unique theme, and has existed in Egypt as a tradition for over 800 years. The theme for the 2011 Fawanees (plural for lantern) is the Dababa (or tank). Meanwhile, the Masaharati is a man that walks down the street beating a drum waking people to enjoy their pre-dawn meal. The Masaharati is typically followed by a wave of young children who also beat the drums, sometimes also carrying lanterns in order to light his path.
One thing that is important to note about Ramadan is that it is not celebrated by only Muslims. Just as Christmas in the US is celebrated by members of all religions, Ramadan has become a holiday that is celebrated by Muslims and Christians alike. It is a part of the spirit and life of Egypt, and is celebrated by all Egyptians regardless of Religion. While Christians usually will not fast during Ramadan, they will usually refrain from eating publically in the streets and will help by passing out food after the fast has been broken.
Ramadan for Tourists:-
With respect to tourists in Egypt, Egypt changes greatly during the month of Ramadan. Throughout the day, restaurants and bars will be entirely closed, openly only briefly during the night. Koshary lovers will be saddened to find that Koshary is virtually non-existent during the month of Ramadan. For this reason, it is best to prepare ahead of time and have food in your apartment. Luckily, many corner stores and small outdoor shops will remain open despite the fasting throughout the day.
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Arabeya Association is Arabic language school located in Egypt and with branches in Cairo and Giza. Our school specializes in intensive Arabic language and cross-cultural exchange programs with a variety of universities and institutions across the world.
Page Updated Last on: Aug 03, 2011