Sunday, June 05, 2016

Ramadan has begun!

Keen-eyed Muslims were able to see the first light of the crescent moon tonight, signifying the start of a new month in the Muslim Calendar (the calendar is lunar-based so a month starts with the crescent moon). This was important as it marks when the Holy Month of Ramadan begins.

With the announcement of Ramadan there's a lot of changes in Qatar:

-- Muslims (and me) will be fasting, from the first light around 3:15am until sunset around 6:20pm.
-- Schools, Government offices and many businesses will change hours. Most offices will be on five or six-hour workdays since many people will be fasting, and many businesses won't be open during the day and instead have extended hours in the evening, sometimes as late as midnight or 1am.
-- Restaurants will be closed throughout the day, I think some hotels will have food available but only for guests. Many grocery stores will have daytime hours though.
-- No alcohol will be sold anywhere. The liquor store is closed for the entire month, as are all bars. I witnessed it once at a bar many years ago, as soon as Ramadan was called carts came out and all bottles of alcohol were taken off the bar, even display bottles. The drink you had in your hand was your last one. I was told that the police would be by in an hour or so to check that everything had been put away.
-- You should not eat, drink or smoke in public during daytime. There are some exceptions of course for children and so forth but even then families tend to be discreet about giving food or water to their children.
-- Things will get lively after around 8:30-9:00pm when the tarawih prayers are finished. That's when everyone starts going out for shopping, sohour meals and so forth.

So fasting starts tomorrow. I have my meal on my nightstand and the alarm set for 3am so I can get up to eat it. The first couple of days should be the toughest since it will take my stomach time to adjust to fasting.

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

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