Kuwait had announced three days ago that the month of fasting could start on August 11, Thursday. But here in the United Arab Emirates, it was only after 9 pm last night that we got confirmation that Ramadan would start today. We kept calling friends and families, even those living in Makkah city, who informed us that the imam there had just confirmed the sighting of the moon. Minutes later, as we headed home from work, we heard the taraweeh prayers from the mosques. Here was how the crescent-sighting committee did their job last night.
So today is the first day of fasting here for us, this being my fourth Ramadan in the U.A.E. Fasting starts at 4:25 am and iftar will be around 7:05 pm. It’s 40+ °C outside and it is said that this Ramadan will be the longest and hottest in 25 years! Most of us mostly spend our day (and evenings) in air-conditioned environments, but my heart goes out to those who are working under the sun. Even if our work hours have been officially shortened to 6 hours per day, it is still risky to fast and toil under the cruel summer sun. That is probably why the Islamic Authority here said that workers who find fasting beyond their physical capacity in the summer heat may end their fast during the day, and compensate for the missed days later. And those who work for the municipality will receive free iftar meals.
Outside, posters are up with greetings of a happy Ramadan. Restaurants are closed during the day, but are allowed to open an hour or two prior to sunset. What I love most is that no one is smoking out in the open. Where I work, there’s usually a ‘smoking tent’ pitched up near the parking area where people can go and smoke in private. I haven’t seen that tent today. I’m sure those who smoke are pretty much annoyed. And, if someone is caught smoking during the day (or drinking or eating for that matter) that person could either end up in jail for a month or pay a 2,000 dirhams fine.
Also, Dubai Metro will be operating from 6 am until 1 in the morning. And although eating and drinking inside the trains is not allowed (200 dirhams fine), passengers can now eat or drink on the platforms and all other areas of the Metro station at sunset, when it’s time to break the fast. The “no eating and drinking” signs had already been removed from Metro stations.
And the mosques are overflowing with worshipers, mashaAllah. Such a wonderful sight.
How is Ramadan in your city this year?
Masood and I wish our Muslim readers a very happy and blessed Ramadan! May Allah accept our fasting and prayers. May He help us improve ourselves to become a better person so that we may set good examples for everyone.