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Celebrating Diversity in Ramadan Traditions Around the World


Ramadan – An Expression of Diversity

Ramadan is the month that brings people and communities together. It is characterised by sharing, giving, and embracing the spirit of diversity. Islam is followed by around two billion Muslims around the world. Most of them bring their own unique culture to honour the month of Ramadan and other special occasions. While the acts of worship are the same for everyone, the way to show excitement and joy differs for many.

What Countries Celebrate Ramadan?

Different countries and cultures celebrate the blessed month according to their own particular customs and traditions. Some of the countries participating in Ramadan 2024 include Türkiye, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Iran, and the UAE. While countries with Islam as the state religion observe Ramadan officially, many Muslims take part in Ramadan traditions across the globe. Muslims in Western countries celebrate the holy month with traditional fervour and dedication. Ramadan celebrations are upheld across the UK, Canada, the US, and some European countries.

How is Ramadan Celebrated?

The auspicious month of Ramadan is observed by following the noble example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is commemorated mainly by fasting, with Iftar and Suhoor being the outstanding features of the fasting day, and the holy month also witnesses the performance of tarawih prayers, recitation and reflection on the Quran, supplication, and an increase in charitable deeds.

Ramadan Food Traditions

Ramadan necessitates two meals that surround the fasting day. Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal consumed before beginning the fast. Though this is not essential for the validity of the fast, the believers are highly encouraged to eat something at Suhoor. A healthy Suhoor includes something nutritious that can release energy throughout the day to avoid fatigue and lethargy. This ensures one can fulfil religious and worldly obligations without hardship. The Prophet (PBUH) put emphasis on eating Suhoor.

“Eat Suhoor, for in Suhoor there is blessing.” [Bukhari 1923]

In another narration, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

“The best Suhoor for the believer is dates.” [Abu Dawood, 2345]

Iftar is the meal eaten at the time of breaking the fast. Iftar also traditionally begins with the consumption of dates, which give instant energy to the fasting person. Due to the timing of Iftar in many countries, it resembles an evening meal or dinner. As everyone is normally home in the evenings, Iftar sees families eating together.

Ramadan Food Traditions Around the World

Every culture has special dishes that are normally cooked for Iftar and Suhoor because of their nutritious value or years of tradition. In South Asian homes, the Iftar meal includes samosas, pakoras or onion bhajis as starters. It is followed by biryani, curried chicken, meat or vegetables with chapattis or rice—some people like fish for their Iftar meal.  

In Egypt, people enjoy “Khchaf,” a fruity jam made with dates, figs, and other fruits for breakfast or Suhoor. Qatayef is the cherished dessert of Egypt during the month of Ramadan. A bit like pancakes but stuffed with nuts, it is a remarkable Middle Eastern treat.

Turkish people like baklava for a special Iftar or Eid. Freshly baked Ramazan pidesi is also a top favourite which is enjoyed with Turkish coffee. In Uzbekistan, patır, a crispy and buttery bread baked in a traditional tandoor oven, is relished during Ramadan. Harira, a soup-like dish from Morocco, and the brioche-like bread called Ma'arouk in Syria also delight the taste buds of the fasting people in Ramadan.

Other Customs of Ramadan

Ramadan traditions around the world add to the vibrant ambience in communities during the glorious month. One of the common customs prevalent in Muslim countries is the announcement that happens at Suhoor time to wake people up for Suhoor. In Pakistan, young people go around houses in groups encouraging people to wake up in good time by chanting inspirational quotes. In some areas, people beat drums or sing prayers to do the same. Some of these people wear traditional clothes and hats; for example, the drummers in Türkiye dress in a traditional Ottoman costume, including a fez and vest.

Another part of Ramadan culture is the marking of Iftar time. Cannons fire to announce Iftar time in Syria. In some other countries like Pakistan, sirens installed by local councils announce the commencement of the time of breaking the fast. Mosques also announce the arrival of Iftar time over loudspeakers, followed by the call to prayer.

Traditional Ramadan Decorations

Communities in Egypt decorate the streets with lanterns called “Fanoos” to honour the month of Ramadan. These lanterns create a welcoming atmosphere, symbolising unity and bliss.

The markets and shops in Muslim communities are embellished with dazzling lights. There are welcome signs, bunting and festive adornments in public places. Some families hang ornaments in the shapes of the moon and star. Generally, people clean and decorate their homes before the arrival of Ramadan. The last week saw an increase in decorations to celebrate the festival of Eid, which is an occasion of joy for all. Families buy beautiful wrapping and gifts, and special preparations are made to welcome family and friends.

Ramadan is a time of worship and dedication for Muslims. But it also gives them the opportunity to express joy, excitement, and unity in celebrating the diversity of their cultures. Ramadan is a global experience in which believers from across the world participate to assert the beauty of the Islamic faith and the greatness of Allah (SWT).

One Communal Mission

While Ramadan traditions differ worldwide, one aspect remains the same, and that is charitable giving. Donating to charity is an integral feature of Ramadan no matter where you’re based, and you can donate to Muslim Aid this Ramadan.

We are a faith-based British international charity that provides help to people who are victims of natural disasters or conflict or suffering from poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, injustice, deprivation or lack of skills and economic opportunities.

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