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11 things Hotels need to know on catering to Muslim guests during Ramadan

Apr 2016

The month of fasting, Ramadan, is one of the most important months of the year for Muslims.  Due to the specific needs of the Muslims during this month, they will require some specific services and facilities at Hotels to make their stay a comfortable one. This guide will help Hotels to understand their needs and cater to them during the month of Ramadan. 

1. The Month of Ramadan

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar. The Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar system, has a 12 month cycle, revolving around 355 days; this is approximately 10 days less than the Gregorian calendar. This is why the Islamic months, including the month of Ramadan, vary each year. Every year, the month of Ramadan advances by 10 days compared to the Gregorian calendar.

2. Fasting During the Month of Ramadan

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a compulsory form of worship for all Muslim adults. Although there are some exemptions for Muslims to skip fasting while traveling, most Muslim travelers nowadays opt to fast due to the comfortable facilities available while traveling.

3. Fasting in Islam

Fasting, in the Islamic sense, requires one to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and intimacy from dawn to dusk. While fasting, Muslims will continue with their normal day-to-day activities; however, they will also allocate additional time and effort towards other religious activities such as reciting the Qur’an, frequenting the mosque for prayers, doing charitable work, etc.

4. The Timing and Definitions of Dawn and Dusk (In the Islamic Sense)

The time fasting period begins (dawn) and ends (dusk), on any given day, is calculated very precisely based on the time of sunrise and sunset. These times vary, depending mainly, on the geographical location and the day of the year (lunar year).

The time to commence fasting coincides with the time of the first of the five daily prayers a Muslim has to perform, referred to as Fajr prayers.  The conclusion of the fasting period of the day corresponds with the 4th of the five daily prayers, called Maghrib.

The timings of the five daily prayers and prayer direction for any given location can be found on HalalTrip.com or its mobile App. Prayer time tables can also be obtained from a nearby mosque.

5. Iftar and Suhour Meals

The morning meal taken before the beginning of the fasting period is called Suhour, and the meal taken at the breaking of a fast when the fasting period ends is called Iftar (These are Arabic terms. In some places local terms may be used to refer to them). These are very important meals for Muslims. It is best to take Suhour as near as possible to the start of the fasting period, and Iftar should be taken as soon as the fasting period ends.

At the time of Iftar, dates and water are generally consumed to break fast. It will be a good gesture to offer complimentary dates and water to Muslim hotel guests and visitors during the month of fasting.

6. Halal Meals

If a hotel has a Halal-certified kitchen or restaurant, then serving Iftar and Suhour becomes very easy. If a hotel currently does not have a Halal-certified or Halal-assured restaurant or kitchen, then the following options can be considered:

  • Convert one of the hotel’s kitchens to a Halal-assured kitchen temporarily during the month of Ramadan.
  • Consider outsourcing Iftar and Suhour meals for the month. Basics include dates, a drink, rice porridge and (halal) snacks.
  • If it is not possible to do any of the above, then the guests should be at least provided with a list of nearby restaurants that do serve Halal meals.  This is not a very practical solution for Suhour meals since it may be difficult for guests to travel to a restaurant at such a time.

Many hotels with sizable Muslim guests offer buffets for Iftar during Ramadan (Ramadan Buffet), and some offer buffets for Suhour as well. If there is no Suhour buffet, Muslim guests could be provided an option which allows them to order room service during the time of Suhour. Hotels must take greater care when it comes to providing room service for Suhour - the meals must be prepared and delivered on time otherwise it will prove difficult for your guests to fast appropriately.

7. Prayer Facilities

Praying five times a day is also one of the obligatory pillars of Islam. A Muslim will be much more conscious of this obligation during the month of Ramadan and as such, providing information, services and facilities to perform prayers will make the guests even more comfortable.

This requires the Hotel to consider providing the following:

  • Placing of a prayer time table in the rooms.
  • Having prayer mats that are placed in the rooms or provided upon request.
  • Having female prayer dresses available for those who may need them.

8. Taraweeh Prayers

During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims will also pray an additional congregational prayer called the Taraweeh prayer. The timing of the Taraweeh prayer is after the last of the five prayers of the day, known as the Isha’a prayers. The following services could be considered for guests who are keen on performing these prayers:

  • Provide a Prayer Room in the hotel with space for both males and females. Make sure to identify the prayer direction (Qiblah) in the room. If the room is large enough to accommodate many, consider having the rows marked on the floor so that it may be easier for individuals to position themselves for prayer.
  • Wudu, also known as ablution, is the cleansing ritual Muslims undergo before each prayer. This can be done in the bathroom facilities of their hotel room, but it will be convenient if a restroom is available near the provided congregational prayer room.
  • Identify the mosques in your surrounding area and compile a list of the mosques, their locations and directions, and the language in which sermons are given. These lists can be provided to Muslim guests of the hotel. HalalTrip.com and also its mobile App can provide the nearby Mosques for most locations. 
  • Identify a mosque near your hotel that offers sermons in English, Arabic and other languages and consider providing transportation from the hotel to the mosque during the specific Taraweeh prayer times.

9. Friday Prayers

Friday prayers, also known as Jumu’ah prayers, are obligatory congregational prayers for Muslim males. It will be a good gesture to consider providing transportation to the nearest mosque for these prayers.

10. Eid-ul-Fitr and Prayers

The end of the fasting month (Ramadan) is celebrated on the 1st day of the month of Shawwaal.  This festival is called Eid-ul-Fitr. Most Muslims will greet each other with the words “Eid Mubarak” on this day, which is a traditional greeting that translates to “May you enjoy a blessed festival”. The greetings used may vary from country to country.

The day will start with a congregational prayer at a mosque; the timings of these prayers will vary from place to place, but it is generally always in the early morning. This information can be obtained from the local mosque in advance to notify the Muslim guests.

It will be a good gesture to consider providing transport for the guests to a nearby mosque for this prayer.

11. General Facilities and Services

Other services and facilities that can be provided to make the guest feel at home during the month of Ramadan include:

  • Offering Wake up services to guests for the Suhour meal time.
  • Providing Islamic TV channels in the rooms.

Providing any of these services during Ramadan will increase the appeal of the hotel to Muslim travelers immensely.  Many of the changes listed above, would not affect the overall characteristic of the hotel nor will it cost a lot to implement. If you have any questions or would like any assistance in your efforts to increase your Hotel's appeal to Muslim travelers during Ramadan, please Contact Us.

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