Ramadan - the holy month
 
Ramadan the Islamic month of fasting. It is the ninth month of the lunar calendar and the start and end date is determined by the sighting of a new moon. During this month, Muslims all around the world will fast from dawn to dusk, in a bid to please Allah, the Almighty.
 
Importance of Ramadan
 
According to a well-known hadith, the person who observes Ramadan properly will have all their past sins forgiven. According to another, "When Ramadan arrives, Heaven's gates are opened, Hell's gates are closed, Satan is chained up and jinns are also locked up" and thrown into the oceans. So Ramadan is a month when a Muslim can get all his past sins expiated. All Muslims strive to take complete advantage of this month. 
Historically, the month has a lot of importance with many key developments in the spread of Islam happening this month. The most important of it is the Battle of Badr which was a major turning point in the history of Islam.
 
What is fasting?
 
It is widely thought that fasting means to refrain from food and drink. However, Islam lays down that, during Ramadan, believers must abstain not only from food and drink but also from sexual activity, gossip, bad deeds, addictions and idle chatter.
Fasting is a must on all healthy, able and sane Muslims, however children, the sick, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, elderly and travelers are exempted from it. But they must make up the fast at another time.
 
Charity
 
Every year a Muslim has to give about 2.5% of his possession to the poor and needy. This is what is called Zakah. Many Muslims chose Ramadan to give what they owe in Zakah as it is believed that all good deeds done in Ramadan is magnified by Allah.
Apart from this, all Muslims have to pay a certain amount as Sadaqat-al Fitr on the morning of Eid before going for the morning prayers. This can be given by the heads of families on behalf of the members of the families. The main purpose of Zakat al-Fitr is to provide the poor with a means to celebrate Eid along with the rest of the Muslims
 
Rules for non-Muslims in the country
 
People are not allowed to eat or drink in public- even in your cars. If someone does so, it is a serious offense and they can be fined as well as jailed. People are expected to dress more modestly during the period and no loud music or loud sounds are allowed. Any alcohol related offences will probably be treated much more severely than outside the month of Ramadan.
Most eateries will be shut during the day although it will be possible to get take-aways from certain approved outlets.
 
Ramadan etiquette for non-Muslims (Source: Gulfnews.com)
 
Since Ramadan is a time of piety and high religious consciousness, it would be considerate for non-Muslims to adapt their lifestyle during the month as well.
 
Here are a few tips to follow during Ramadan:
  • Eating and drinking in public is banned across the UAE during Ramadan, and strict penalties are levied on those who break the rule. Most eateries are closed during the day for the month, but some restaurants do offer delivery services. 
  • Avoid eating or drinking in front of colleagues who are fasting in office. 
  • Do not get into arguments with those who are fasting; be patient and show consideration for the long hours of fasting. 
  • Dress and behave modestly, avoiding animated behaviour that could cause offence. 
  • Try to understand Ramadan better by involving yourself in the spirit of the month. Saying 'Ramadan Kareem' to Muslims and attending a fast-breaking feast, or iftar, would be appreciated by most Muslims. 
  • Do not play live music as it is banned through the month. 
  • Shopping malls and supermarkets are expected to be open late at night. 
  • Since cultural consciousness is also high during the month, Ramadan can be a good time to connect with the local and Muslim cultural scene by attending the various musical and social events, as well as trying local and regional cuisine that is popular during the month of fasting. 
  • Arabic speaking non-Muslims wishing to learn more about the region and its people will notice that Arabic television channels change their programming to a new schedule dedicated for Ramadan, when some of the most popular celebrities in the Arab world feature in some of the most-watched soap operas, historic series, as well as religious, cultural and musical shows. 
 
Ramadan Glossary (Source:dubaifaqs.com)
 
Adhan - call to prayer
Allah - God
Asr - mid-afternoon prayer
Dhuhur / Dhuhr / Zuhr - midday prayer
Eid Al Adha (Day of Sacrifice) - a 4 day festival that starts about 70 days after the end of Ramadan, commemorating Ibrahim / Abraham being ready to sacrifice his son.
Eid Al Fitr - a festival at the end of Ramadan (the first three days of the month of Shawwal) to celebrate the completion of the month of fasting.
Eid Mubarak - greeting at the start of Eid
Fajr (dawn) - the first prayer of the day, at dawn
Fawanees - colorful lanterns used to decorate Iftar tents, the tradition originates in Cairo, Egypt, when residents walked out to the streets with lamps to welcome a new Fatimid ruler on the 5th day of Ramadan in the 9th century.
Iftar - the evening meal after sunset to break the daily fast during Ramadan
Imam - an Islamic religious leader
Imsak - beginning the daily fast, means the act rather than the time
Isha / Isha'a - evening prayer, the fifth and last prayer of the day
Kabaa / Ka'ba / Kaaba / Kabah - the black granite building inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, regarded as the holiest place in Islam.
Laylat Al Qadr or Lailat Al Qadr (Night of Power) - one of the last nights of Ramadan, marking the anniversary of when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) by the Angel Gabriel.
Maghreb / Maghrib - sunset prayer
Manara - minaret
Qibla - the direction of the Ka'ba in Mecca / Makkah
Quran / Koran - the holy book for Islam, first revealed during Lailat Al Qadr. Muslims recite the entire Quran during Ramadan.
Rak'ah / Raka / Rak'a / Rak'aa / Rakaa / - the cycle of standing, bowing, prostration and recitation that make up a unit of prayer. Each of the five daily prayer sessions consists of 2-4 Rakat / Raka'at (plural of Rak'ah).
Ramadan Kareem - Ramadan greetings (Kareem equivalent to "generous"), more common than ...
Ramadan Mubarak - Ramadan greetings (Mubarak equivalent to "blessings"). Less common in Egypt, something to do with a gentleman called Hosni.
Salah / Salat - praying
Salat Al Jama'a - communal prayers
Sawm - abstinence or fasting
Suhoor - the morning meal taken before the sun rises and the start of fasting during Ramadan
Shurooq - early morning prayer
Sunnah / Sunna - the way of the Prophet, meaning to follow his words and actions. Literally can be taken to mean custom, practice, or recommended.
Taraweeh prayers - special evening prayers during Ramadan, after Isha, when the Quran is recited.
Wudu - cleansing of the body when preparing for prayer
Zakat - giving alms. It is especially important for Muslims to give Zakat during Ramadan.
 
RAMADAN & PRAYER TIMINGS
           
Hijri 1433   Day Date Imsak Iftar
        (AM) (PM)
Ramadan 1 Friday Jul-20 4.11 7.12
Ramadan 2 Saturday Jul-21 4.11 7.11
Ramadan 3 Sunday Jul-22 4.12 7.10
Ramadan 4 Monday Jul-23 4.13 7.10
Ramadan 5 Tuesday Jul-24 4.13 7.09
Ramadan 6 Wednesday Jul-25 4.13 7.09
Ramadan 7 Thursday Jul-26 4.14 7.09
Ramadan 8 Friday Jul-27 4.14 7.09
Ramadan 9 Saturday Jul-28 4.14 7.08
Ramadan 10 Sunday Jul-29 4.15 7.08
Ramadan 11 Monday Jul-30 4.15 7.07
Ramadan 12 Tuesday Jul-31 4.16 7.07
Ramadan 13 Wednesday Aug-01 4.16 7.06
Ramadan 14 Thursday Aug-02 4.16 7.05
Ramadan 15 Friday Aug-03 4.17 7.05
Ramadan 16 Saturday Aug-04 4.17 7.04
Ramadan 17 Sunday Aug-05 4.18 7.03
Ramadan 18 Monday Aug-06 4.18 7.03
Ramadan 19 Tuesday Aug-07 4.19 7.02
Ramadan 20 Wednesday Aug-08 4.19 7.02
Ramadan 21 Thursday Aug-09 4.20 7.01
Ramadan 22 Friday Aug-10 4.20 7.00
Ramadan 23 Saturday Aug-11 4.21 6.59
Ramadan 24 Sunday Aug-12 4.21 6.58
Ramadan 25 Monday Aug-13 4.22 6.57
Ramadan 26 Tuesday Aug-14 4.22 6.56
Ramadan 27 Wednesday Aug-15 4.23 6.56
Ramadan 28 Thursday Aug-16 4.23 6.55
Ramadan 29 Friday Aug-17 4.24 6.54
Ramadan 30 Saturday Aug-18 4.24 6.53
           
***Time difference between UAE emirates: Abu Dhabi: +4 minutes; Ras Al Khaimah: -4 minutes; Fujairah: -6 minutes