“I’d love to share my personal experiences of Ramadan in different parts of the world with you. Ramadan is different for everyone, even within a single religious or cultural group and during Ramadan, some people may focus more on spiritual reflection, while others may incorporate more festive elements into their observance of the month. I believe that each person’s experience of Ramadan is unique and valuable.
“Ramadan is the ninth month in the Hijri (lunar) calendar, during which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. The Hijri calendar is based on the lunar cycle, which is around 11 days shorter than the solar Gregorian calendar and therefore starts earlier each successive year. The month starts on the night the new moon is sighted. In 2023, Ramadan might start on March 22nd or 23rd. It wouldn’t be uncommon for Muslims who are work colleagues to start and finish Ramadan on different days.
“While the basic principles of Ramadan are the same worldwide, there are some small differences in the way it’s celebrated in different countries.
“In Qatar, for example, there’s a unique celebration called Garangao, which takes place in the middle of Ramadan. It is usually celebrated on the 14th night of Ramadan and is a special occasion for children. Children dress up in traditional clothes, sing songs and collect sweets and nuts from their neighbours. It’s a fun and festive occasion that highlights the importance of community and sharing.
“In Egypt, Ramadan is also a time for celebration and festivity. One of the most iconic symbols of Ramadan in Egypt is the lantern or “fanoos” in Arabic. These colourful lanterns can be seen hanging outside homes and shops throughout the country and are often used as decorations during Ramadan.
“Families and friends gather together to break their fast each evening, often enjoying traditional Egyptian dishes. In Egypt, the tradition of eating in the street with your neighbours dates back centuries and, during Ramadan, many neighbourhoods set up tables and share their food with everyone else.
“Another popular tradition during Ramadan in Egypt is the airing of special TV series, known as “mosalsalat Ramadan”. These shows are typically produced specifically for the month of Ramadan and feature themes related to family, love and faith. Many people in Egypt look forward to watching these shows with their families during Ramadan.
“In the UK, Ramadan is observed by the Muslim community and there’s an increased focus on charitable activities. Many mosques hold nightly prayers, and there are special Ramadan events and lectures held across the country. It’s a time for reflection, worship and community.
“It’s important to remember that Ramadan is not just about abstaining from food and drink. It’s also a time for personal growth and increased empathy towards those who are less fortunate.
“If you have colleagues who are observing Ramadan, please try to provide flexibility and avoid making assumptions about who may or may not be fasting. Fasting can affect people in different ways and it’s important to be understanding and supportive. Colleagues who are fasting will not expect others to do the same, so there’s no need to feel anxious about making a cup of tea or eating your lunch.
“Overall, Ramadan is a unique and special time of year. I hope this has given you some insight into how it’s celebrated in different parts of the world. Ramadan Kareem!”