Ramadan is a month of devotion to God for the Muslims. Muslims believe in the oneness of God and it has been ordained that they fast in the month of Ramadan. It is also the month where the Holy Qur’an was revealed by Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who was an illiterate Arab Bedouin. Fasting is the 4th pillar in the list of five pillars of Islam.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. In some countries, this can be as long as eighteen to twenty hours, due to varying daylight hours in different parts of the world. Not only do they fast, they also abstain from activities which give in to the worldly desires and spend more time in prayer, giving more in charity and also bask in the remembrance of God. As they intend for it to be a month of “purification of the heart” their hopes are that through these acts of worship it would lead to an increasing piety in their faith.
During this month, a special night prayer that can only be done in the month of Ramadan, called the “Tarawih” prayers are held in mosques around the world. Imams leading their congregation in prayer will recite verses from the Qur’an and by the end of Ramadan, would have completed reciting the book in its entirety. Out of 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, millions have memorised the Qur’an from cover to cover, with the youngest person recorded by the Guinness World Records being only a 3 years old Algerian boy, Abdur Rahman.
Benefits of Fasting
Apart from health benefits, fasting also teaches one to be disciplined in controlling humanly desires. It also teaches one to understand the meaning of poverty and hunger which leads to gratefulness and a sense of heightened awareness. It brings about a sense of unity and tightening of family bonds as families eat their pre-dawn meal together and also break their fasts together.
Food Bazaars and Restaurants
In Asia, namely Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, Ramadan is observed extensively, as a large population of Muslims live in these countries. In Singapore and Malaysia, Ramadan is also a time where food bazaars spring out selling all kinds of food. While this may be the case in Asian countries, the atmosphere is very different in the middle-eastern countries. Silence dominates the cities. Food stalls and even restaurants are closed until it is time to break their fasts. Don’t be too surprised if they prioritise serving their Muslim patrons first at dinner time.
If you’re in Malaysia, here are some of the best bazaars to head to. Kampung Bahru Ramadan Bazaar has over 200 stalls for you to choose from. Hailing as one of the largest bazaars, it is something you don't want to miss. Get a taste of the bubur lambuk which is distributed for free here by the local mosques. It’s something you only get in Ramadan. Taman Tun Dr Ismail bazaar is located right in front of One Utama shopping mall. Famous for their murtabak raja, we bet you won't miss the snake-like queues in this one. Jalan Masjid India Bazaar, as the name implies is located on Jalan Masjid India where it is known for shops selling textiles. An array of Malay food can be found here. With its convenient location a win (minutes from the Bukit Bintang shopping area), it is a no wonder for it to be filled with throngs of people.
The Geylang Serai Bazaar is the biggest in Singapore and boasts an extensive menu of fusion food. Be amazed to find colourful food and drinks this time round. An excellent place for all the young foodies to experience something new! If you happen to be in the Arab Street vicinity, don’t forget to pop by the bazaar just beside the iconic Sultan mosque.
Be sure to join in the Ramadan festivities and perhaps challenge yourself to fast for a day or two?