You walk around malls and see signs that it's coming.

You switch on the television and radio, and know that programs are being prepared for it.

You go to the supermarket and see all the deals and preparations for it.

You talk with friends and all they seem to talk about is it.

It's finally here!

Ramadan – the Holy month of fasting, praying and elevated spirituality.

The ninth month of the Islamic Calendar (Hijri), Ramadan is the holy month in which we Muslims fast from food and drinks from dawn till twilight, until we hear the athaan for maghrib, which is the fourth out of the five daily prayers and is performed at at sunset.

Ramadan is holy because it is the month in which Prohphet Mohammed- peace be upon him- received the first verses of the Holy Qura'an. Many Muslims seek to do more good deeds during this holy month because the credit or "Ajir" is more worthwhile during this month, thus making it a blessed month.

Many non-Muslims wonder how Muslims do not eat or drink anything for such a long period of time. Is Ramadan fasting like dieting some might ask?

Well, fasting does not even compare to dieting because you can break a diet anytime. Fasting is done for a higher purpose. We are ordered by Allah to fast during this month.

What if you get hungry or thirsty? That's the purpose of fasting. Being hungry and thirsty reminds people of what the poor go through regularly. However, with Islam being a lenient religion, sick people who for some reason cannot fast and individuals travelling abroad can delay fasting to another day after Ramadan.

On the subject of food, you might notice that food disappears faster from supermarkets and grocery stores during the holy month. One reason would be that people like to break their fast on a variety of food dishes. Some dishes like dumplings are characteristic of a typical Ramadan "Iftar" (breaking of fast meal). Other reasons are that people like to share dishes with their neighbors during this holy month and some of the Iftar dishes are kept to be reheated for "Suhuur" (the last meal before fasting again and is often had before dawn of the next day).

What makes Ramadan special is that it's a break from everyday all-year routines. A lot of work and school timings for instance are altered in order to make fasting easier. In the Arabian Gulf countries, for instance, school and work timings change. School and work hours start around an hour later than usual and may end earlier than they usually do in other months. This makes fasting easier for all.Many people also sleep later than usual due to social gatherings that stay till the late hours.

Another routine breaker in Ramadan are the television programs aired in this holy month. Television channels compete in presenting the best or most popular  and latest drama series as well as a variety of shows. Arab Actors and Actresses seeking fame from all over the Arabian Peninsula air their shows during Ramadan. Some famous actors like Suad Abdulla, Hayat Alfahad, in addition to many others are known for acting in at least one drama show every Ramadan; something which many viewers wait for and anticipate.

With increased spirituality, stronger social ties, different food dishes and different TV programs, one would wish Ramadan would be all year rather than just one month.

Ramadan Kareem, or as we Khaleejis say "Mubarak Alaykom Al-Shahaar" (May the holy month of Ramadan brings you blessings).

– Nouf Alwan

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