Understanding Suhoor, Siyam and Iftar
Suhoor is known as the first and earliest meal of the day before Muslims commence with their fasting. Suhoor is observed before the crack of dawn to pray during the morning “adhaan” or call to prayer, and have suhoor together with family. In the UAE, weekday suhoor is typically spent together with family at home, while many Muslims tend to eat out at restaurants or luxury Ramadan tents before beginning the day of fast.
Siyam, meaning “to refrain,” is referred to as the hours spent fasting from sunrise to sunset for the Holy Month. Muslims may not drink, eat, or smoke during this time, while negative actions and thoughts must also be refrained from. Siyam symbolises the cleansing of the body, mind and soul from imperfection while focusing one’s mind and actions on prayer, thankfulness, salvation and charitable deeds for the less fortunate.
Iftar occurs at sunset when Muslims break their fast with water and traditional dates before prayer time, after which a massive spread of popular iftar dishes are served to be enjoyed together with loved ones. Popular iftar dishes include biryani, saloona, samosas, fruits, and decadent desserts including kunafa and basbousa.
Common Words or Phrases Used During Ramadan
The Importance of Charity During Ramadan
Ramadan Etiquette in the UAE
Enjoying the Culture and Traditions During Ramadan
Those who are looking to immerse themselves in the culture of the UAE will especially enjoy visiting the souks and markets during the time of Ramadan. If you are in Dubai, you can also pay a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the age-old Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood to learn about the origins of Dubai. Non-Muslims who would like to try fasting for a day are welcome to do so - just make sure to enjoy a healthy and nutritious iftar and suhoor to sustain your body.
If you are invited to an iftar, it is polite to accept the invitation and it’s a great way to experience this special time of year while enjoying the UAE culture. Take a gift for your host along with you, such as dates to show your appreciation. You can also visit the local restaurants during Ramadan if you would like to try out the traditional Arabic main dishes and sweets.
Eid al-Fitr occurs immediately after the Holy Month of Ramadan to celebrate with family and friends, eat large feasts of traditional foods, don new Eid clothing and enjoy the festivities. Eid is a bustling time of year across the UAE and a public holiday that is usually as long as 3 days. Eid al-Adha is the second Eid of the year and takes place approximately 70 days after Ramadan ends. It is also a public holiday that lasts up to 3 or 4 days.
Ramadan is without a doubt a very special time of the year for Muslims as they atone for their sins, and cleanse their body and mind, while also giving back to the poor. Be sure to respect this time of year and take part in the traditions and cuisine if you are a non-Muslim living in the UAE.