The month of the Ramadan is considered a significant and important month for the global Muslim community as it is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. During this month, which normally runs for up to 23 or 30 days, Muslims commemorate the time when Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. It is also during this time that the whole Islamic community observes fasting from sunrise to sunset during which they are expected to abstain from consuming any food, drink and sexual relations. Muslims are also expected to refrain from any unacceptable behavior thereby demonstrating an utmost reverence for the occasion. Indeed, this is their month of sacrifice, and is a time for an inward reflection of their lives.
There are some instances when a Muslim is not expected to conform to the rule of fasting. If the devotee is of advanced age, with child, has her menstrual period, suffers from diabetes, or suffers from any physical or mental infirmity, or is a child under twelve years of age, then he/she may be exempted from the act of fasting during this month. If a Muslim is unable to fast, he can either try to make amends by fasting at another date or make a contribution to the poor and the needy.
While the requirement of month-long fasting may seem impossible to achieve, Muslims are able to accomplish this by waking up before sunrise to have a meal called Suhoor. This is meant to sustain them until sunset when they can eat again. The evening meal during which a Muslim family breaks fast together is called Iftar.
During this time, Muslims need to be mindful of their brothers and sisters. Considering that they have not eaten nor drank in the last twelve hours, Muslims are advised not to drive at sundown because this is the time when all devotees troop down the road for Iftar. Devotees are advised to accept all invitations for Iftar and it is also recommended that they bring along any delicacy or sweet such as dates. Everyone wears conservative clothing, meaning it should not be revealing or tight. Loud music is moderated if not prohibited, because this is a month of prayer and reverence, a time of spiritual reflection. Playing loud music would not only interrupt the occasion but also destroy the serenity and show disrespectful attitude.
Since it is a month of fasting, people should refrain from hugging and kissing one another in public. Some people use this opportunity to face the challenge of having to give up smoking or even drinking alcoholic beverages, because smoking and drinking liquor is prohibited during this month. If an individual can last the month without having to puff a cigarette or take a sip of alcohol, then chances are that he may kick this habit, easily.
Bahrain is quiet and peaceful during Ramadan. Although some hotels cater food and drinks to tourists during the day, there is no alcohol served anywhere. Businesses routinely shut their doors in the early afternoon and reopen late in the evening. The dress code is conservative and there is little entertainment around the city, apart from the tents put up by the local hotels.