Different people, one Ramadan

ABU DHABI — Every year, Muslims all over the world wait for the holy month of Ramadan for fasting. These include people from more than 200 nationalities, most of them from the Islamic countries, residing in the UAE. They follow different customs and traditions, but their aim is one — to celebrate Ramadan.

By Ahmed Abdul Aziz And Atef Hanafi

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Published: Thu 28 Sep 2006, 9:29 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:54 PM

In Ramadan, the lifestyle changes around the Islamic world that comprises about 57 countries and more than 1.3 billion Muslims. Here, in the UAE, you can see a variety of Islamic cultures. Khaleej Times met Muslims from different countries such as India, Pakistan, Syria, and Egypt, to find out how they observe Ramadan. In India, some cities have special traditions in Ramadan like exchanging gifts, flowers, and food dishes.

M. A. Haq Asif, an Indian Accounts Manager in Abu Dhabi, said: “In Ramadan, we usually meet our Hindu neighbours and exchange gifts with them. By communicating with each other and organising joint programmes, each community lives in a peaceful manner.” About the most popular Indian dishes in the holy month, Asif added: “The dish that people most like in our country is ‘Haleem’ that is similar to the Arabic dish ‘Harees’. We make it from wheat, pulses, chicken or meat, fried onion, green salad, and fresh green mint. The popular dessert dish is ‘Sheer Khuarma’. It contains milk, noodles, and sugar. About the atmosphere during Ramadan in India, Mohamed Abbas Ansari, Credit Risk Officer at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, explained that the Indian Muslims mostly concentrate on their prayers at the mosques and on reciting the Holy Quran. “We, the Muslims, around the world have the same special prayer for Ramadan, the ‘Taraweeh’ prayers after the daily Isha prayer,” he added.

Omar Mohammad Kheer, a Syrian lives in Abu Dhabi and works as a translator. “The most delicious Ramadan dishes in my country are: Fatet Makdous, Fatet Kawarei, Egg, Hommous, and Fatoush,” he explained. A Pakistani cabman, Faqeer Mohammad Ateeq, said: “I am happy with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan because this is the month of good and charitable deeds.” The Pakistani cabman noted that his working hours were usually reduced in Ramadan because of Taraweeh prayers and because he spends time reading Holy Quran. “I just work for 10 hours, instead of 14 hours around the year,” he said.

The Egyptians have a number of traditions specially during the holy month. The logo of Ramadan in Egypt is ‘Al Fawanees’ (cup lights) that is from the Fatemi age in the old history (969 to 1171).

Ragab Bihairi, manager of the Egyptian products shop in the capital, said: “We have ‘Fawanees’ for children and for decoration. We know that Arabs, and in particular, our society like them so much.” For the Egyptian food, he noted that they have lots of special dishes like figs, sour cherry, and dates. They also prefer the dessert dishes like ‘Konafa and Qatayeef’.

“Particularly in Ramadan, people like to buy lots of Egyptian food products such as meat, dried dates, cheese, and beans,” Bihairi added.

Khaleej Times met Zuhor Hamdi, a British woman, who lives and works in Abu Dhabi. Explaining the traditions in the holy month of Ramadan in the UK, she said: “The day is very short in the winter. We cannot do anything after work. However, when Ramadan comes in the summer, it is really so difficult because the daily fasting period would be about 17 hours. For the differences in the celebration of Ramadan here and in England, Zuhor added: “I can see lots of different things, such as the restaurants in London are open during the day and people eat and everything is normal, but in the Islamic world you will never see that.” She noted that the mosques here are in every corner of the city. However, in the UK, it is rare to find a mosque to pray. She said that before 1999, they could not take a leave on Eid day, but nowadays, Muslims in the UK can take a day off on the two Eids during the year.

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