Ramadan starts in Oman.It is the holiest month of the Islamic year. It is when the Quran, the holy book of Islam was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. It is the Islamic month of fasting where Muslims pray and reflect. Muslims do their normal routine but refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and doing any kind of intimacy. It is intended to teach Muslims about self-discipline, patience, generosity, and submissiveness to God. It is common to have one meal (known as Suhoor) just before sunrise and another (known as Iftar) after sunset. Ramadan lasts for 29-30days depending on the sighting of the new moon.
Not all Muslims are required to fast. Non-Muslims, sick or those mentally ill, young children, elderly, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, breastfeeding or recently had a baby are exempted. If the fast is missed, they should try to make up the fast at a later date or make donation to the poor. During this time, greet Muslims with the phrase “Ramadan Kareem” which means Generous Ramadan.
When you are visiting Oman which is a conservative Muslim country on the month of Ramadan, you need to understand certain rules and regulations .This month brings a lot of joy for Muslims but for non – Muslims , it may cause some inconvenience. One is expected to adapt to the rules in public places during the daylight hours.
During fasting hours, non – Muslims are expected to follow the rules of fasting. In gulf country like Oman, it is considered illegal to eat and drink in public places during day light. Police patrols the streets and you may get fined if caught. It is only allowed to drink, eat or smoke in private. Restaurants are closed the whole day and will reopen after Iftar. But international hotels will have at least one restaurant open for travelers to eat during daylight hours. Bars and pubs are closed and no live music are allowed. It is also expected that men and women will dress more modestly. Government offices, banks, malls, tourist places are open but working hours are shorter too. Regardless of the religion, all residents of Oman have shorter workdays. At home, you are free to do whatever you do. If you will walk around on the daylight, you will see a quieter life scene.
Most of the people are up all night. Day and night are somewhat switched during Ramadan, so there is a lot of stuff going around during the evenings. Malls are open until midnight. Most of the hotels will offer Iftar and Suhoor buffets.
Ramadan ends with Eid el Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast. Many Muslims celebrate by giving gifts, visiting family and friends and wearing new clothes.
For all my Muslim friends and colleagues, Ramadan Kareem!
Have you ever spent Ramadan on a Muslim country? Share your experiences on the comment below.