According to the Muslim faith, it was during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar that the Holy Quran, the sacred book, “was sent down from heaven, guidance unto men, a declaration of direction and a means of Salvation.”
This is also the time of the year when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. In the Arab world, governments, philanthropists, welfare organisations and community groups offer alms.
The Red Crescent Society
The Red Crescent Society (The International Red Cross is so called in these areas) offers rice, wheat, vegetables and fruits and other essentials to the needy.
“Fasting is one way of realising the true state of hunger and the Holy Month is devoted to understanding the sufferings of some sections of the society. Abstinence from pleasures of life (all entertainment and night club activities are suspended during the Month, even after dusk) including sex with spouses helps Muslims to concentrate on the teachings of Islam,” a religious leader said.
At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the Iftar.
In the evening following the Iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.
It is also customary for commercial and industrial undertakings in the Arab world to host special dinners after Iftar for staff and clients, at least once during the Holy Month.
Pregnant women, children, those in poor health and suffering from certain types of ailments including diabetes are exempt from fasting, in addition to Muslims travelling overseas. But many travellers do observe the fasting hours, irrespective of their schedules.