Ramadan is a little different this year. For most Muslims, Ramadan invokes visions of warm iftars, communal prayers, early morning and late-night gatherings with family and friends. Not this year. This year these gatherings won’t occur because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To adapt to the latest movement restrictions, many are leveraging technology to connect and staying home safely during this reflective and spiritual time. As we continue to stay at home and socially distance ourselves in a unified fight against COVID-19 during this Holy Month in the UAE, we share our top 5 tips for Ramadan 2020.
WATCH THE VIDEO: TOP 5 RAMADAN TIPS
TIP 1: Be a good guest
As a guest in the Middle East, it is important to respect the traditions and cultures of the country you now call ‘home’. You should make efforts to be a good guest in the UAE by being kind and considerate towards those who are fasting. This is made possible by educating yourself on the meaning of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the most sacred in the Islamic year. It is about when the Prophet (PBUH) received from Allah the Holy Scripture, the Quran. It’s a time of reflection on one’s relationship with God; a time of fasting, togetherness as a family, and a time of study of the Quranic scriptures.
To demonstrate your understanding of the importance of this month in the Islamic calendar, it’s also crucial to know how to exchange greetings during Ramadan. During this Holy period, you may greet people by saying, Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak and acknowledge that we are in Ramadan. You can add “Al Salam Alaikum”, a standard greeting when meeting people to enhance your Ramadan greeting. Here are some short but useful phrases to brush up on during Ramadan.
PHRASES TO KNOW IN RAMADAN
If you would like to know if a colleague or acquaintance is fasting you can ask “Sayem?”. You may hear “Emta El Maghreb?” quite frequently around your office. This means “What time are Maghreb prayers?”. Maghreb prayers are right before Iftar which breaks the fast for the day.
TIP 2: Timing is everything!
Work timings during Ramadan do become shorter. This is because Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. So, you should be mindful of prayer timings because Muslims pray five times a day and three out of 5 of these prayer timings take place during working hours. There is a midday, 4pm, and 7pm prayer that occurs during the typical workday. It is important to be careful not to schedule meetings or deadlines that will interfere with or interrupt prayers during these timings. The prayer time you should be most conscious of is the one that takes place by around 6:45PM to 7PM because that’s when the fast is broken for the day and iftar is performed.
If you have house help who observe Ramadan, you can lessen their workload during this time as fasting is not an easy task especially at the beginning of Ramadan. Those fasting are most likely to be tired later in the day so if you can schedule chores in the morning while they still have energy from eating Suhoor, it would certainly show your mindfulness around Ramadan practice.
TIP 3: Publicly eating and drinking
Let’s first touch on the sensitivities around eating and drinking in public before getting into alcohol. Eating or drinking in public is not allowed unless you have a medical condition. This is a regulation that is observed in the UAE. You also need to be cautious not to have food or drink nearby during our new norm of Zoom or Skype calls. Even if you’re not drinking or eating, do not have water or food nearby so that these items are not seen on your Zoom frame.
Regarding alcohol, it is not okay to drink or show alcohol in public – either online or offline. What does this mean? No consumption or comments or photos that display alcohol products on social media – yes, the #winenotwednesday hashtag is best left for after Ramadan. No display of alcohol during your Zoom calls. This does not mean you should change your preferences or your lifestyle during Ramadan…you can always enjoy privately at home away from Zoom, Skype or your go-to video conferencing platform.
TIP 4: Fashion Ramadan style
With fashion, there are some no-no’s during Ramadan…Starting with Zoom calls, the new national hobby, you want to carefully think about how you dress…no tank tops, shorts, low V-necks, or sleeveless tops that will show your shoulders. You can opt for jackets, long-sleeved tops, and if you are feeling adventurous consider an embroidered caftan with a jacket over it for a business meeting.
If you want to get in the spirit of Ramadan, do check out H&M, Ounass, and Zara…these Dubai based stores currently have amazing Ramadan collections right now at a great value.
Another option if you are looking for something dressier is Razan Alazzouni, which has beautiful silk creations, or Dina Zaki. You can find fun, colourful and decorated abayas from online retailers like Namshi.
You need to dress responsibly during this time of Ramadan even if you are not observing the fast. You might ask ‘Why should non-Muslims uphold and respect this tradition?’ The simple and only answer really is because it’s a way of showing respect to your host country during a significant period of the year.
TIP 5: Be generous & charitable
Gift-giving is considered a significant act in the Arab culture, especially during Ramadan. You could gift sweets or dates to eat as it’s a way to wish your Muslim friend or colleague a sweet life as they break their fast – Patchi chocolates and Bateel dates offer beautifully packaged gift sets during Ramadan. Another option is tea sets and coffee cups from O’de Rose – they have beautiful Arabic style tea and coffee sets.
Charity is one of the pillars of Islam and it’s also vital in religions from around the world. If you are looking for a way to get in the spirit of Ramadan through charity do look into the 10 million meals campaign. It’s a global charity initiative that belongs to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He started this program to feed people in need and hungry and giving back at this time is another way we can show love and care to our community and the country in which we live.
Today, we launched a humanitarian campaign to provide 10 million meals or food parcels to communities affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the UAE. Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum is the best person to lead this campaign during the Holy Month of Ramadan. pic.twitter.com/hkRQv4btV1— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) April 19, 2020