Visiting during Ramadan...good idea?
June 24, 2011 6:43 PM   Subscribe

I am thinking of visiting a friend for 2-3 days during the month of Ramadan. My friend may or may not fast this time. Is it bad manners to visit during this time? What are the things that I should and shouldn't do while I am there, if I decide to go? (And no, visiting any other time of the year or the next year may be out of the question. We are meeting after 17 years) Should I bring something over with me? (I will be flying there) Thanks all!
posted by xm to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
NAYM (Not Your Muslim), but there's no problem visiting someone during Ramadan. If you smoke, and they do too, it might be thoughtful not to do so during the daytime. Have a good trip.
posted by Paquda at 6:49 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Of course, meant to say: IANYM.
posted by Paquda at 6:52 PM on June 24, 2011

Depending on where you are going, be advised that many stores may not open until evening. It is customary to bring dates or sweets to celebrate breaking the fast.
posted by proj at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2011

I know two people who have traveled in Muslim areas during Ramadan and very much enjoyed being there during that time and going out and breaking fast with everyone else, but went over with a substantial supply of protein bars. There are people who do eat during the day, either for health or non-religious reasons, so it's not as if there's not a bite of food to be found all day, but hours were definitely pretty erratic and having the special stash was useful.

I got the impression that it was a very popular time for visits home or to visit relatives, so I don't think there would be anything gauche in being there.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:08 PM on June 24, 2011

Ask your friend.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:37 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's not bad manners, especially if your friend has welcomed the idea :) But keep in mind if they are fasting, they may not be able to be the same kind of host they'd be outside of Ramadhan. By that I mean, first of all they'll be hungry, thirsty and tired at least some of the time; their routine will be disrupted as they'll probably be waking up before sunrise to eat breakfast, then going back to bed (hence tired); and while fasting they're supposed to abstain not just from eating or drinking but also from material and worldly things, e.g. going to a bar or to get a pedicure would be against the spirit of the fast. Also your friend will likely be making sure to pray 5 times a day, so plan for that. And of course, if your friend is fasting, YOU might feel uncomfortable eating/drinking in front of them, even if they don't mind.

It would definitely be a nice gesture to bring some nice dates as they are traditionally used to break the fast.

Of course, all of these points are generalizations. It really depends on your friend.
posted by yawper at 8:37 PM on June 24, 2011

No problem with visiting, but what you and your friend do may depend on where you are--I understand that Ramadan customs vary somewhat, within the common obligations to fast and so on, across the Muslim world. I'm about to experience my first Ramadan here in Qatar, and I understand that no-one, whether Muslim or not, will eat, drink or smoke in public during the day, and that food businesses will not trade. Our western-oriented office will make a private area available for unbelievers who wish to eat lunch, but will discontinue the coffee service that operates other times. On the other hand, I understand that the breaking of the fast at night can be quite lavish,and hospitable. I've even been told that some people diet in the month before Ramadan so as to have a bit of spare capacity for the fast-breaking. (Remember, I'm speaking of Qatar--it may well be different elsewhere.)
On the other hand, if you can manage it, a visit during Eid ul-Fitr (three days immediately after Ramadan) might be interesting. This is a celebration, and a public holiday. Only problem is that since the date is based on the lunar calendar, and the new month begins with the observation of the new moon (that is, the actual observation, not the astronomically predicted date), the first day of Eid can't be securely predicted.
posted by Logophiliac at 10:46 PM on June 24, 2011

You don't say where your friend is. Visiting during Ramzan is fine, as long as you are generally considerate. Your asking this question suggests that will not be a problem.

Some things to be aware of: If your friend fasts, they will likely have less energy during the day. If they are in the north, realize that fasts will be close to 20hrs each day this year. Generally, summertime fasting is more debilitating than winter because of the no water thing.

Generally, it's not considered particularly polite to eat, drink, or smoke around people who are fasting. That said, in my parents' home, as well as at my in-laws, we would serve meals or snacks as usual to anyone we knew wasn't fasting.

So, really, how traditionally observant your friend is, where they live, and who they live with are all contributing factors here. Asking your friend specifically may not be particularly helpful, depending on their cultural background. South Asian and Arab Muslim cultures are HUGE on hospitality to guests. Don't have firsthand knowledge of other Muslim cultures.
posted by bardophile at 3:08 AM on June 25, 2011

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