Perhaps no other month in the year punctuates the lifestyles of Muslims around the world more than the holy month of Ramadan. In this month, Muslims observe fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam, by abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking as well as intimacy from dawn to dusk.
With Muslim traveling during Ramadan becoming a growing trend, it is imperative that the travel and hospitality service providers have a deeper understanding of Ramadan and how they could better serve their Muslim guests during this month.
Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar system, and thus has a 12-month cycle revolving around 355 days. As this is 10 days less than the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic months, including the month of Ramadan, vary each year in comparison.
Yearly, the month of Ramadan advances by about 10 days compared to the Gregorian calendar. This also means that for a given region, the daytime temperature and the duration of fasting will be different each year. The month of Ramadan revolves around the solar calendar (Gregorian calendar) taking 30 years to complete a full cycle.
The length of the fasting period can vary substantially across different parts of the world due to the changing times of sunrise and sunset. Although the average fasting time during Ramadan is between 11-16 hours per day, certain parts of the world, such as Europe, can experience fasting durations exceeding 20 hours when Ramadan occurs during the summer months.
In some parts of the world, when Ramadan occurs during summer, the daytime temperature could soar above 40°C. As such, while lifestyle changes may be common for Muslims around the world, the experience of fasting itself may be different for Muslims living in different regions due to the impact of the duration of fasting and daytime temperatures.
As for the common lifestyle changes of Muslims during Ramadan, although they will continue with their normal day-to-day activities, they will also allocate additional time and effort towards other religious activities such as reciting the Qur’an, frequenting the mosque for prayers and doing charitable work.
Some of the unique features of the month of Ramadan include:
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 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.
During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims will 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.
Understanding these unique needs will help travel and hospitality industry to better cater to them.