The Muslim holiday of Ramadan will begin in the United States on the evening of Tuesday, May 15 and will continue through the evening of Thursday, June 14.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I love to learn when I travel. And since traveling often means meeting people from all different backgrounds, I’ve discovered that I love learning more about what these “different from me” people consider to be important and, of course, as is often the case, that includes their religion. So from my own active researching as well as reaching out to ask friends who practice, I’ve learned a little bit about many of the major and not-so-major religions around the world – what’s done, why those things done, etc. I think it’s made me a more well-rounded person and helps me keep a more open mind about those who may not have the same beliefs as I do.
So what IS Ramadan? Well, to grab a quote from History.com:
“Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims, the followers of Islam. Fasting is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam. Each day during Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. They are also supposed to avoid impure thoughts and bad behavior. Muslims break their daily fasts by sharing meals with family and friends, and the end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day festival known as Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam’s major holidays.”
Unlike, for example, the High Holy Days and Sabbath of Judaism, Muslims can still work and travel during Ramadan. In fact, as per my friend Nowal (she’s my Guru of All Things Muslim. She also just passed the bar exam and is now all fancypants Nowal, Esq. WTG, NOWAL!), travelers are generally exempt from fasting. “They would just have to make up any missed days after Ramadan,” says Nowal. “For example, I know of someone who is coming from overseas to visit, and she’s not going to fast while traveling.” (She’ll just do a “make up fast” after Ramadan is finished.) “However,” Nowal continues, “some airlines in the Muslim world do provide in-flight timing guidelines so that anyone who still wants to fast (and not have to make up any days) has a way to do so uninterrupted. In fact, since the ancient religious guideline for fasting while traveling is to start/stop fasting per local timing, not origin or destination, one airline has developed proprietary algorithms based on prayer time calculations using the plane’s real-time coordinates.”
But what if you’re not a Muslim and are traveling on a plane registered in the Middle East during Ramadan? That very interesting question was answered on this recent post on One Mile At A Time, when the author had a flight on Saudia (a.k.a. Saudi Arabian Airlines), which flies in and out of, of course, Saudi Arabia. As someone who always likes to learn the whats and hows of these kinds of things, I just found it fascinating. Take a look at his article and then come back here and let us know what you think.
BTW, if you want to learn some more basics about Ramadan, I recommend these:
- The basics of Ramadan
- Some Ramadan etiquette for non-Muslims in Western countries
- The rules and etiquette you should follow while in a Muslim majority country during Ramadan
And for my Muslim friends, Ramadan Mubarak!
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