Bangladesh Adventures

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ramadan in Bangladesh

Below is some information on the Muslim’s Ramadan, which we are well into in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, more food is eaten in this month of fasting then any other month of the year. For Bangladesh, with a 87% Muslim population almost all food shops, tea stalls and restaurants are closed during the fasting hours. The best part of the fast for me is when they break the fast each day at around 6 p.m. there is no traffic on the streets as they celebrate iftar!

Ramadan started on 23 September (based on lunar sighting), thus beginning the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran ‘was sent down from heaven, guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation.’ It is during this month that Muslims fast. It is called the Fast of Ramadan and lasts the entire month. Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation.

During the Fast of Ramadan, strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day, the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning According to the Holy Quran: ‘One may eat and drink at any time during the night "until you can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daylight: then keep the fast until night.’

On the evening of the 27th day of the month, Muslims celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Power). It is believed that on this night Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran. Accordingly, this is when God determines the course of the world for the following year. When the fast ends (the first day of the month of Shawwal) it is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Id-al-Fitr (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large meals. In some cities fairs are held to celebrate the end of the Fast of Ramadan.

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