Ramadan is a holy month observed by Muslims around the world. This month is dedicated to spiritual reflection, self-discipline, and increased devotion to God. Muslims fast from dawn till dusk and engage in charitable acts and communal prayers during this month. Ramadan is not only about individual spiritual growth but also about community bonding and social harmony. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which Ramadan is celebrated around the world, highlighting the diverse practices and customs of different cultures.
The Significance of Month of Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and its significance stems from the belief that it was during this month that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that fasting during Ramadan is an act of worship and a way to purify the soul, develop self-control, and practice empathy towards the less fortunate. Most Muslims around the world when you ask them that why you fast, their response would be (we fast in order to feel how the poor feels when the have no food) well, this is a very unfortunate answer because the poor themeselves also fast in this month. The true purpose of fasting is mentioned in the holy Quran by the lord himself in Surah Baqarah Aya 183: O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. The main purpose of fasting is to control the innate desires and become a righteous person and have control over our senses and emotions.
Ramadan in the Middle East
The Middle East is the birthplace of Islam, and Ramadan is celebrated with great fervor in this region. The month-long fast is broken every evening with a communal meal called Iftar, where families and friends gather to share food and fellowship. In the UAE, the government sponsors Iftar tents where people of all nationalities can break their fast together. In Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mosque in Mecca becomes the epicenter of spiritual activity during Ramadan, with millions of pilgrims from around the world performing the Taraweeh prayers. It is the best time to be in Madina or Mecca during this time, those who are fortunate enough and get a chance of performing Umrah during this month, they get to experience the best Umrah. One of the reason being is that they get free delicious food everywhere at the time of Iftar (breaking the fast). Many generous Muslim from around Makkah and Madina bring delicious food to the pilgrims so that they can break their fast with it as an act of worship and and also generosity. There is beautiful Ramadan lights everywhere and the atmosphere is amazing, everyday feels like its Eid, especially when you have the opportunity to break your fast Ajwa date and Zam Zam water.
Ramadan in South Asia and Central Asia
In South Asia, Ramadan is celebrated with a distinct cultural flavor. In Pakistan and India, Iftar is a time to savor delicious savory snacks and sweets, and streets are adorned with colorful lights and decorations. The evenings are often filled with music, poetry, and storytelling. In Bangladesh, the month-long fast is called “Roja” and is accompanied by the distribution of free food and clothing to the needy. In central Asian countries like Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Uzbekistan people which are also heavy Muslim populated countries, Muslims fast and share the beauty of Ramadan with their non Muslim country men. Recently our social media manager was in Uzbekistan ( which is the birthplace of Imam Bukhari) and he explains how beautiful it was to be in this country during Ramadan. There are beautiful Mosques in Samarkand and Bukhara and people cook delicious Uzbek food such as (Uzbek Pilav) and bring it in these huge beautiful historical mosques before iftar and share it with people. In Afghanistan which 99 percent of its population is Muslim, people fast during the month of Ramadan and there is joy in every streets of Kabul just before Iftar. People cook amazing delicious food such as Manto, Qabili and Chabli Kabab, Bolani (all these are names of tasty Afghan cuisine) and distribute it in the streets and to their neighbors. There is Food and dates almost in every Masjid in Afghanistan before Maghrib prayer.
Ramadan in Southeast Asia
In Southeast Asia, Ramadan is celebrated with a mix of Islamic and local customs. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Ramadan is marked by the “Ramadan Bazaar,” where street vendors sell a variety of traditional delicacies. In Malaysia, the fast is broken with a meal called “Buka Puasa,” and the last ten days of the month are dedicated to intense spiritual activity and communal prayers.
Ramadan in Africa
Ramadan is celebrated across the African continent, and the month-long fast is a time for communal reflection and charity. In Egypt, Iftar is accompanied by the traditional “fanoos” lantern, which symbolizes the sharing of light and hope. In Sudan, communal meals are served in large tents called “Mawa’ed Al Rahman,” where people of all backgrounds are welcomed to break bread together.
Ramadan in the West
In recent years, Ramadan has gained visibility in Western countries, with Muslims finding new ways to celebrate their faith and traditions. In the United States, Ramadan is marked by the White House’s annual Iftar dinner, where government officials and Muslim leaders come together to break bread. In Canada, the city of Toronto hosts the annual “Taste of Ramadan” festival, showcasing the diverse culinary traditions of Muslims from around the world. In the UK the mayor of London who is a Muslim Sadiq Khan, he personally lightened lights of Ramadan In Piccadilly circus with huge number of Muslims and celebrated the the beginning of holy month of Ramadan.
The Universality of Ramadan
Despite the diverse practices and customs associated with Ramadan, the core values of self-reflection, spiritual growth, and community bonding are universal. Ramadan serves as a reminder that despite our differences, we share a common humanity and a shared commitment to the well-being of our fellow human beings. Ramadan brings people together, alot of non Muslims know about Ramadan through social media channels such as Facebook and Tiktok. Recently people are going viral on Tiktok conducting social experiments with Muslims on their videos, the non Muslims ask Muslims to break their fast for an Iphone 14 or money and its amazing to see that no Muslim would agree to break their fast for material stuff of this world.