I have just added to my collection of multicultural experiences the first week of Ramadan. Ramadan, which started last Sunday 29 June, is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar Hijri.
According to the Quran, the prophet Mohamed received the first revelation during this month. Ramadan is for Muslims also a month of fasting during daylight. Fast is one the five pillars of the Islamic religion and it means to enhance the spiritual reflection while abstaining from physical activities like drinking, eating, smoking, or even sex and sinful speech. The last meal, suhoor, is eaten before dawn, while the first meal, iftar, is eaten after sunset, usually within a circle of family members and friends.
For non-muslims it means city decorated as during Christmas, relative calm everywhere during the day, less traffic, shorter working hours, copious dinners, but also no eating and drinking in public as this is prohibited by law, limited opening hours of shops, closed restaurants, shortage of taxis at the sunset and no loud music. To see clearly the big picture, add also the 45-50°C heat. 😉
In case you are interested to learn more about Ramadan in the Middle east, Wikipedia has a nice overview of what is Ramadan.