The holy month of Ramadan is upon us and more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will observe a period of abstinence, spiritual reflection, and devotion, over the coming weeks. This is a particularly significant time of year for the people of the United Arab Emirates and especially Dubai.
For a city and a people often defined by lavishness, this month of abstinence is in stark contrast to its material richness. Perhaps that is also why Ramadan is especially significant to the people of Dubai. It is a time of spiritual purification, and an opportunity to focus on one’s relationship with God, family, and community.
For most Emiratis, Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal and reconnection with their faith. In Dubai, this is especially evident, as the city comes alive with a variety of events and activities to mark the occasion. From special Ramadan markets to charity drives, there is something to inspire everyone during this time of year.
But of course, Ramadan is not just about social events and activities. It is also a time to think about yourself and grow spiritually. For many Muslims in Dubai, this means dedicating more time to prayer, delving deeper into the teachings of the Quran, and reaffirming their commitment to Islam.
Mosques remain open late into the night during Ramadan, providing the perfect place for individuals to find solace and connect with their faith. Furthermore, the season of Ramadan fosters a spirit of generosity and forgiveness.
The season for giving and also forgiving
Earlier this week, His Highness Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, launched the “1 Billion Meals Endowment” Ramadan campaign, which is aimed at establishing a food endowment fund as a means to provide sustainable food aid to fight and eradicate hunger.
One of the reasons why fasting or sawn is practiced is to allow us to empathize with the less fortunate. More than 828 million people suffer from hunger around the world. This means one in ten people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
This should remind us that we ought to be grateful for the food that we eat and the blessings we receive from Allah and also inspire us to lend a helping hand to those in need.
In His Highness Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s words, “as humans and as Muslims, it is our duty to be there for those in need, especially during the month of Ramadan. Even a small but sustainable contribution makes a bigger difference than a one-time large contribution.”
Khaled Khalifa, senior adviser to the GCC for the UN refugee agency, during the launch of the Islamic Philanthropy annual report in Dubai on Monday, also urged people to show their support during Ramadan and help refugees who are in need more than ever.
According to the most recent statistics from the UNHCR, there are currently an estimated 103 million people around the world who were said to be forcibly displaced, with more than 32 million of those classified as refugees.
The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the cost-of-living crisis have created increased funding pressures for the humanitarian community, with refugee numbers expected to continue to grow even further.
With more people in need of aid, the humanitarian community is under increased pressure to provide more aid to those in need. Ramadan calls on Muslims in Dubai to increase their charity, or Zakat, to help these suffering brothers and sisters.
Furthermore, Ramadan is also a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. Fasting is observed as an act of repentance, seeking forgiveness for one’s sins. It is an opportunity for atonement through good deeds of kindness and generosity.
But as much as we ask forgiveness for our own sins, it is also important to not keep holding on to the sins of others. That’s why in addition to seeking forgiveness from those you may have wronged, Muslims are encouraged to extend forgiveness to others.
This spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation is particularly important in a city as diverse as Dubai, where people from all over the world come together to live, work, and worship.
Ramadan etiquette for non-Muslims in Dubai
As a city that transcends religious and cultural boundaries, Dubai still stands as a beacon of hope, at a time when Islamophobia, Muslim persecution, and intolerance are dividing communities across the globe.
Dubai is a city that welcomes people of all faiths and cultures. It is a true melting pot of cultures and religions, where the sounds of the adhan and the ringing of church and temple bells seamlessly coalesce into a harmonious melody that is unique to this enchanting city.
However, as a non-Muslim in Dubai, it is important to be aware of the subtle nuances and customs that envelop the Holy month. The fast-paced lifestyle that epitomizes Dubai is momentarily subdued during this time, as devout Muslims undertake their rigorous spiritual obligations with devotion and dedication.
And while non-Muslims are not required to partake in the fast, it is imperative that you exhibit respect and consideration for those who do. As such, engaging in public eating, drinking, and smoking during fasting hours should be refrained from, and you must dress modestly and avoid any lewd behavior that may be deemed inappropriate.
During Ramadan, non-Muslims in Dubai can still participate in the spirit of the Holy month if they wish. This could mean volunteering at a local mosque, attending an Iftar dinner with Muslim friends, or simply learning more about the traditions and practices of Islam.
Non-Muslims can also take advantage of the unique atmosphere of Ramadan by visiting one of the many Ramadan tents that are set up around the city. These tents offer a range of traditional foods and drinks, as well as entertainment and activities for all ages.
Dubai’s initiatives for Ramadan in 2023
This year Dubai is gearing up for a multitude of events and initiatives to celebrate the spirit of peaceful co-existence and get communities involved. The Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) has organized a plethora of activities as part of the Ramadan Dubai initiative.
Starting from March 24 to March 26, the Hala Ramadan event in the Barsha Heights-Tecom area is a three-day event that will be open to members of the community. A group iftar will be held each day that is open to 2,000 individuals, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Families and children will have a designated area, and there will be religious education lectures provided in a variety of languages.
Dubai Pulse is a women-only initiative that aims to sustain Emirati values and bring together three successive generations, or what is known as the extended family. The event will take place twice in the neighborhood councils with involvement from some additional communities.
The Spartan Challenge – Kids Night Race is an event that will be a fun physical and mental exercise for children. Experienced coaches and volunteers will guide the children through the course and the proceeds from the event will go to children in need.
The Dubai Quran reciters event will feature 84 renowned reciters of the Quran, from the UAE as well as from outside the UAE, in 8 mosques across the emirate. The ‘Elite of Reciters’ program will also take place, where 50 Imams will lead worshippers in performing the Taraweeh prayers in 20 mosques across the emirate.
Other events organized by IACAD include religious lectures and lessons in all mosques in Dubai, women’s lectures in various mosques in the emirate, and Expo lectures in coordination with Expo City within the Ramadan Neighborhood initiative.
In addition, the goal of the Dubai Iftar initiative is to have all the leaders and representatives of religions and sects who live in Dubai sit down at one table for Iftar. The Iftar Together Initiative will also be held, where 200 leaders in the field of education will gather for Iftar at Dubai Expo City.
The illustrated book, ‘Diary of Hedaya and Falah in Ramadan’, will cover the various jurisprudential rulings on fasting, prophetic supplications, and morals related to the month of Ramadan. Clothes donation boxes will also see a revamp, with international painters invited to draw on these boxes with the participation of school students.
There’s no doubt that together, these initiatives will help foster the spirit of Ramadan, especially among the younger generation.
The importance of Ramadan for Dubai’s younger generation
The erosion of moral and spiritual values among youth is a matter of great concern the world over, and also in Dubai. As such, Ramadan provides an excellent opportunity to address this issue.
The holy month of Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and introspection. It is a time to rekindle our faith and strengthen our relationship with Allah. It is also a time to show compassion and kindness towards others, especially the less fortunate. In this regard, Ramadan provides an excellent opportunity to instill Islamic values in the youth and children of Dubai.
One of the most important values that we can teach our youth is the value of compassion. Ramadan provides us with a unique opportunity to give back to the community through acts of charity and kindness.
We can involve our youth in various charitable activities such as distributing food to the poor, volunteering at a local mosque, or helping the elderly. Through these activities, our youth can learn the importance of compassion and empathy towards others.
Another essential value that we can instill in our youth is the value of discipline. Fasting during Ramadan requires a great deal of discipline and self-control. We can use this opportunity to teach our youth the importance of self-discipline in their daily lives. By adhering to the rules of fasting, our youth can learn the value of discipline and self-control, which will serve them well in their future endeavors.
Lastly, we must not forget the importance of family values. The holy month of Ramadan provides an excellent opportunity for families to come together and strengthen their bonds. We can involve our youth in family activities such as preparing meals, breaking fast together, and engaging in spiritual activities such as Quran recitation and Taraweeh prayers.
By doing so, we can teach our youth the importance of family values and the importance of preserving our Islamic traditions and heritage.
By inculcating Islamic values such as compassion, discipline, and family values in our youth, we can prepare them to become responsible and productive members of society.
Let us use this holy month as a means to instill these values in our youth and ourselves and strengthen our relationship with Allah.