Ramadan 2016: June 5, 2016 – July 5, 2016

ramadanby Heather Steranka-Petit

Content adapted from: Brookfield Global Relocation Services 2015, http://www.brookfieldgrs.com/ramadan/

This year, the holy month of Ramadan will be observed by more than 1.6 billion people around the world, and by more than 5 million people in the USA.  During this month, Muslims all over the world observe fasting from sunrise until sunset. This year Ramadan is started at Sunset on Sunday, June 5th, and will continue for 30 days until July 5th.

In many parts of the world, you can expect the pace of work to slow down during the month of Ramadan.  Some countries like the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait have laws to reduce the working hours during this month.   In observant Muslim countries, almost no critical decisions are made at this time and it is advisable not to start a new project during the fasting month.

Ramadan is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. During this month, Muslims who are physically able are required to fast, abstain from food or drink, from sunrise to sunset (this includes gum and water). Children, pregnant women, and nursing women are not required to fast.  Adults who cannot fast during the holy month due to a health reason may make up the days at a later time.

Fasting is used as a way to purify the soul, to refocus attention on God, and to protect oneself from evil and learn patience, humility and control. For those who cannot fast and are financially able to do so, it is their duty to feed the poor. Evenings, after sundown, are spent enjoying family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the holy book – the Quran.

The dates for Ramadan may vary according to location as they are based on the expected visibility of the hilal (waxing crescent moon following a new moon).

Muslims believe that this month is filled with blessings, and it is appropriate to wish them well. Some traditional or common Arabic greetings that one may hear during Ramadan include:

  • “Ramadan Kareem!” (“Noble (or Generous) Ramadan!”)
  • “Ramadan Mubarak!” (“Blessed Ramadan!”)
  • “Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!” (“May every year find you in good health!”)

At the end of the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). It is a time to give in charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.

Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Do say “Ramadan Kareem” to your Muslim friends and colleagues.
  • Do give to the poor and help the needy. Ramadan is a time to be charitable.

Don’t:

  • In the Arabian Gulf countries, non-Muslims are restrained from eating and drinking in front of those who fast. If you are a non-Muslim visiting a Muslim country, do not eat or drink in public during fasting hours.
  • In the USA, be conscientious and aware of your Muslim clients and colleagues. For example, this may not be the best month to bring in donuts for the break room or offer to treat your clients to lunch.

Something you may not know…
The biggest Islamic populations in the world are not in the Middle East. Actually, they are in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Content adapted from: Brookfield Global Relocation Services 2015, http://www.brookfieldgrs.com/ramadan/

For more, check this CNN article on Ramadan: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/04/us/ramadan-non-muslims-etiquette-guide/ 

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