Rules for Tourists during Ramadan: Never Do It in the Presence of Fasting People
Ramadan is a month of obligatory fasting for Muslims, one of the five pillars of Islam. During the month of Ramadan, devout Muslims in the daytime refuse to drink, eat, smoke, and have intimacy. The duration of such a month is 29 or 30 days and depends on the lunar calendar. Fasting begins at dawn and ends after sunset.
This year, on April 12, Muslims began the holy month of Ramadan, which lasted until May 11. How adherents of Islam fast: from dawn to dusk, they should not eat food and even drink water, or enter into intimate relationships. However, the beginning of Ramadan is relevant not only for devout Muslims but also for tourists traveling to countries where this religion dominates. This year, the onset of the Muslim holy month worried tourists especially acutely: the time of Ramadan is determined by the lunar calendar, and if earlier it fell on the winter and autumn months, now Ramadan coincided with the peak of the tourist season. Today we will tell you what to prepare for when traveling during Ramadan.
Businesses react to Ramadan just like any other holiday, so the holy month is not the best time for sightseeing tours. Many establishments and organizations work on a reduced schedule, many are temporarily reducing their staff. In this regard, it is worthwhile to take care of booking a hotel room, purchasing transport tickets, and ordering tours in advance. It is also worth thinking in advance about how and where you may eat. Large international hotels usually offer breakfast-lunch, in restaurants, it is advisable to book tables in advance. A good option is takeout ready meals. Always carry a bottle of drinking water with you, but be picky about the source from which you take this water. And finally, remember that alcohol during the celebration of the holy month of Ramadan is not very easy to get, even in the evenings.
Rules for Tourists during Ramadan
Since more than half of the population of Malaysia is Muslim, fasting is of great importance here. But don’t worry, non-Muslims don’t have to fast. But please note that most eateries will be closed until noon. But it’s a great way to sample a wide variety of iftar sweets and snacks in the evening. You may also have problems with transport in cities.
Many Indonesians not only fast and abstain from drinking and smoking, but also pay tribute at family graves. You may not be able to enter Muslim restaurants as they can be closed during the daytime. But you can dine in other restaurants like Chinese, Balinese or Christian. If you are not a Muslim, then you will not be required to fast. But be careful in public places.
The holiday of Ramadan, or, as the locals call it, Ramazan, makes its own adjustments to the tourist’s usual schedule. In big cities and on the coast, non-Muslims can visit a small number of restaurants and shops. Walking into the eastern part of the country, and before dark, you would find some amenities. In Istanbul, a lot of people gather in Sultanahmet Square for Iftar while reading the Koran and Sufis concerts.
Here public fasting is obligatory. There is even religious police or ‘mutawa’ that patrol the streets during fasting. Cafes and restaurants are also closed during daylight hours, the only exceptions are hotels where tourists rest.
Here, non-Muslims are not required to observe fasting, but the public violation of fast rules is taboo. Outside the tourist centers, most establishments remain closed until dark.
There are pretty strict rules regarding Ramadan. In public places, non-Muslims should refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking. Entertainment and shopping may be limited, and eateries can be closed altogether. The only place where you can break the rules of fasting is in the hotel room, hiding from the fasting people.
Even if tourists of non-Muslim religion are not prohibited from smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating, out of respect it is worth refraining from such activities during fasting. Alcohol cannot be bought during Ramadan, and government agencies close in the afternoon. But when it gets dark, turn your attention to the swanky Iftar celebrations and the bustling street life – the Abu El-Haggag Mosque in Luxor is the center of unforgettable festivals throughout the month.
Here Ramadan is respected not only by religious law but also by civil law. Cafes and restaurants are closed until dark, and the opening hours of shops are shortened. Stores and restaurants are not allowed to sell alcohol for a month – even to organizations controlled by Christians. Travelers are advised to fast openly, but in large hotels, non-Muslims are given food during the day. Iftar festival and its traditions are more modest than in other Muslim countries like Egypt.
In the case of the United Arab Emirates, the strictness of compliance with the laws of Ramadan is somewhat commuted, but tourists need to follow some rules and be prepared for adjustments to the usual tourist schedule. Emiratis are quite hospitable people, but they do not like inappropriate behavior. Here are some rules of conduct for tourists during Ramadan.
• Drink and eat in front of Muslims during the daytime.
• Smoking is prohibited in public places (not only during Ramadan).
• Behave defiantly and attract attention.
• Constant rules apply to clothing. These include avoiding particularly revealing (open shoulders, bust, belly, knees, hips) or provocative clothing that might be perceived as inappropriate or offensive.
• It is also unacceptable to chew gum in public places.
Except for hotel areas, the lifestyle in UAE changes during Ramadan. Museums, water parks can work on a reduced schedule, it depends on the decree of the Sheikhs of the Emirates and can be announced on the eve of fasting.
During the holy month of Ramadan, virtually all activity in many countries occurs at night. Traditions may vary slightly depending on the region, but in all Muslim countries, iftar (evening dinner) begins after sunset. At night, devout Muslims communicate with relatives and friends, and after that, there is another meal before dawn (suhoor). In Morocco, streets are livened up with illuminated signs, music, and sweets at every corner. In Turkey, life during Ramadan flows almost as usual. Note the Iftar tents, under which locals gather for a festive dinner. Local municipalities often subsidize free food giveaways or sales at reduced prices in parks and sidewalks. Whichever Muslim country you find yourself in, non-Muslims are usually invited to join a festive Iftar dinner or while away the time under a canopy.
Before traveling, check the laws of the country you are going to travel to. Some countries have fewer restrictions on tourists, others more. Usually, no one expects non-Muslims to adhere strictly to all Muslim traditions, but it is better, of course, not to eat or drink in the presence of fasting people. Firstly, by doing this you can offend the locals and they would not treat you well, and secondly, you can pay a fine for it. It is also worth dressing more conservatively than you are used to. Anyway, traveling during the sacred fast is a great opportunity to get acquainted with the interesting customs and traditions of this religion from the inside.
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