Posts Tagged ‘Ramadan’

Ramadan Traditions around the World

A boy reads from his Qur’an at a mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the holy month of Ramadan. [Photo by Ilyas A. Abukar via Flickr]

Last Friday, May 26, was the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month during which many Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is holy because it is believed to be the month in which the Qur’an (Koran) was revealed to the prophet Muhammed. It is a time of faith, reflection, peace, and charity, during which Muslims visit the mosque, abstain from physical excesses, and spend time with family and friends. Food is eaten before sunrise, and then after fasting during the daylight hours, Muslims break their fast with iftar, the fast-breaking meal. The fast is commonly broken by eating dates, and then an evening meal is eaten with family and friends. Food is also given to the poor.

Ramadan is celebrated in countries around the world. Check out these Ramadan traditions explained in our CultureGrams reports!

During Ramadan, Moroccans awake before dawn to share a light breakfast, and some people begin with prayer in the mosque. Children attend a shortened day of school, and work hours are altered to accommodate the missing lunchtime and to allow people to rest in the afternoon. In some neighborhoods, young men organize daytime soccer matches to show off their agility even while fasting.

The fast ends each day at sundown, when participants break their fast by eating dates and drinking some water or milk, followed by a traditional soup called harira. Special breads and sweets are also served. Select prayers are offered each evening in the mosque, so that the entire Qur’an is recited by the end of the month. The streets fill with people after these prayers, and people enjoy staying up late to visit with each other.

Ramadan treats in a Morocco market [via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery]

Ramadan treats in a Morocco market [via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery]

During Ramadan, government employees have a short workday of six hours, and all entertainment and sport activities are suspended. Each evening, Muslims are encouraged to attend prayers at the mosque. Non-Muslims are encouraged not to eat, drink, or smoke in public. While everyone is encouraged to avoid wearing clothing that reveals arms or feet, it is especially emphasized during Ramadan.

Before dawn during Ramadan, families wake up and eat a meal called suhur, their main meal before fasting for the day. In most neighborhoods, a man is designated as a caller that goes through the streets banging on a drum and shouting for people to wake up, eat, and pray. On the last day of Ramadan, the drummer will go around to people’s houses and collect tips and treats. In the evenings, family and friends gather to celebrate and eat. During Ramadan, most government offices and businesses work shorter hours. In the middle of the month of Ramadan, children celebrate Qarqe’an Majina by going door to door and asking neighbors for treats.

At night during Ramadan, families break the fast with traditional meals, prepared by the women of the family, of rice served with beef, mutton, chicken, or fish; a wide variety of pastries are also served. Ramadan is a time for praying and reading the Qur’an. In some parts of Oman, people gather in a mosque to complete their reading of the Qur’an as a sign that Ramadan is about to end. Most civic centers and women’s associations hold Qur’an recitation nights, where prizes are given to those who are able to recite the most scriptures from memory without making mistakes.

Tweet us @CultureGrams to share your own Ramadan traditions! Or learn more about Ramadan traditions from CultureGrams Kids and World edition reports! You can also explore our Photo Gallery for images of Ramadan around the world.

CultureGrams: Ramadan Recipes


Iftar in Oman

Last week, June 5, was the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month during which observant Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sunset. Meals are eaten in the mornings before the sun rises and in the evenings when it sets. The traditional fast breaking in the evening during Ramadan is called iftar, and Muslims usually gather as friends and family to eat an evening meal. Food is also given to the poor. Although it is a tradition to break the fast with dates, customary foods eaten in the evenings during Ramadan vary by country.

CultureGrams has recipes for some of these typical Ramadan foods, including bourek (stuffed pastry rolls) from Algeria, kunafeh (a dessert) from Egypt, raqaq (a very thin bread) from the United Arab Emirates, and gulha (fried fish balls) from the Maldives.

Another of the CultureGrams Ramadan recipes is for harira (a lentil and chickpea soup). It is the traditional meal eaten in Morocco to break the fast during Ramadan and is usually served with dates, figs, and special sweets called chabakiya.

Check out the CultureGrams recipe for harira below! It’s making us hungry!


1 pound lamb, cut in small pieces
1 small onion, minced
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight (or from a can)
2 pounds canned crushed tomatoes
2 quarts water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
6 to 7 strands saffron (soaked in a few tablespoons of hot water)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 teaspoon ginger
1 cube bouillon (optional)

Other ingredients:
1/3 cup lentils
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup rice
1/4 cup broken up angel hair pasta
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg


  1. Cook the lentils in salted water. When done, drain them and squeeze the lemon over them. Set aside.
  2. Cook all of the broth ingredients in a soup pot over low heat for 50 to 60 minutes, or enough time to cook the meat and the chickpeas.
  3. Add the rice, pasta, cilantro, and salt. Allow to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Mix the flour with a little water to form a paste and then add this to the soup a little bit at a time; stir constantly to avoid lumps.
  5. Add the lentils and let cook for another 5 minutes. Harira should be creamy but not thick. If it is thick, add water and cook for a few more minutes; if it is too thin, thicken with more flour-and-water paste.
  6. If desired, break an egg into the soup during the last 5 minutes of cooking and mix it well to keep it liquid.
  7. Serve in bowls with lemon wedges on the side for those who want to add it to their soup.
Harira. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Harira. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Ramadan Fun Facts


Ramadan drummers awaken people at the start of the fasting day. Baghdad, Iraq

On 18 June 2015, Muslims all over the world began their month-long fast in observance of the holy Islamic holiday of Ramadan.  While many people know that Ramadan means no eating during the day and large parties at night, some may not know these facts about the special holiday.

1) Ramadan is celebrated on different dates each year.

Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is believed to be when the Quran (Muslim holy book) was reveled to the prophet Muhammed. Like other Islamic holidays, dates are determined by the lunar calendar, which is based on phases of the moon. Each year, Islamic scholars gather to spot the moon that will mark the beginning of Ramadan. Some Muslims don’t agree on the same dates so different sects may start and end their fast on different dates.

2) Speaking of dates….

Dates are traditionally consumed before the fast-breaking meal called iftar, as a way to raise the blood sugar after a long day of fasting. In the Middle East, especially during the month of Ramadan, markets are filled to the brim with different variety of dates.

3) Ramadan is a time of charity.

Ramadan is a time when people are especially charitable. Muslims often donate to charity during this time and local charities host public iftars to feed the poor.

4) Not everyone has to fast.

There are some exceptions to who has to fast. People who are traveling, sick, pregnant, elderly, and very young do not have to take part in the fast. Though fasting is difficult, Muslim look forward to the opportunity to abstain from food and drink, bad language, and other physical excesses and enjoy a time of reflection and peace.

5) Television ratings skyrocket.

Ramadan is a time fro family gatherings and nothing brings the family together better than a religious/historical miniseries. Arabic networks produce special Ramadan shows that attract millions of viewers from across the Muslim world.


Want to learn more about Ramadan traditions and practices? Check out CultureGrams Holiday sections in World and Kids.

Exploring Ramadan


Today marks the first full day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time of both joy and reflection.

RamadanThe act of fasting, or sawn, during the holy month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ordained in the Qur’an, the fast is a practice of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control, whereby one’s sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the poor. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking, smoking and other sensual pleasures is obligatory from sun up to sun down.

Break the fastMuslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal called iftar. Tarawih, extra congregational prayers, are performed after evening prayer and often the streets fill with activities that are communal and festive.

The end of Ramadan is observed in a spirit of joyous achievement by four days of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast.

eLibrary features a Research Topic page on Ramadan, as well as many other edifying and enlightening resources that explore this holy observance and related concepts.

— J. Erick Sinkhorn