Muslims all over the world will undertake the fast of Ramadan this year from August 11th to September 11th (dates may differ according to countries).
In fact, this holy month is not just a period when Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities. Ramadan is rather a way of life and thinking, that changes the Muslims’ pace of life and creates a new special atmosphere of faith. The most important moment during the day of Ramadan is the time when Muslims break their fast.
The Holy Ramadan is an opportunity for both individuals and communities to meditate, pray and abstain from certain deeds. It is also an opportunity to meet one’s relatives, to transform the breaking of fast into a celebration, and to enjoy the special nights of Ramadan full of spirituality.
Ramadan is the month that turns the whole Muslim community into one single family that experiences the same feelings and practices, even though each Muslim country has its specific customs and traditions.
In Saudi Arabia, this holy month is not lived as much the same way as in other Islamic countries. It is the lifetime dream of many believers to perform Umrah during this month. This is justified by the fact that a Umrah during Ramadan is (as narrated by the two imams Muslim and Bukhari) the equivalent of Hajj with the Prophet Muhammad.
Last year, the number of pilgrims performing rituals in Makkah and visiting the Holy Masjid of Medina exceeded 3 million. That’s a big record!
Being a place of devotion, purification and meditation, Saudi Arabia, welcomes Ramadan with cheerfulness and celebrations, marked by a lot of spirituality and faith. Muslims live Ramadan with strong emotions!
Once the crescent declaring the beginning of Ramadan appears, the holy Mosque of Mecca is transformed into a cheerful and vivid place. At the same time, the atmosphere becomes splendid thanks to the light and brightness emitted by lanterns and candles. The prayers and the ardent calls for prayers ring inside the mosque along with the voices of reciters and believers supplicating Allah.
At the time of breaking fast, you can notice the difference of customs among pilgrims belonging to different communities. In Makkah as well as in Medina, a lot of restaurants serve special menus for Iftar, at affordable prices (between 100 and 150 Riyals).
Throughout the day, Saudis who are very scrupulous, make sure that they literally respect the Prophetic Tradition (Sunnah). When the “muezzin” calls for prayer, the head of the family should go to the mosque and break his fast there, starting, as prescribed by the Sunnah, by eating some dates or, if dates are not available, by water.
In Medina, Muslims are accustomed to breaking their fast inside the Prophetic Masjid.
Traditionally, they break their fast with dates, milk as well as rice, which is the principal food of Saudis. They drink special refreshment made of raspberry. After Tarawihs, the traditional Souks are always full of people .
Another Ramadan tradition: Iftar meals open for public, known as « Mawaîd Al Iftar », where free meals are offered for the poor within the area surrounding the two holy mosques of Makkah and Medina.
The last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan witness a very special atmosphere. They are considered as a feast and the government even grants a 10-day holiday.
During these last ten days, Muslims perform the Tarawih prayers in the Holy Mosque and make additional efforts, especially in Laylat Al Qadr, in order that Allah forgive their sins and grant them the best rewards.
Ramadan, the month of conviviality and communion, witnesses a tremendous atmosphere of piety and spirituality in Makkah as well as in Median, the two holy sites of Islam.