Travelling in Iran During Ramadan
Iran is a Muslim country. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day, say several prayers and then break their fast with a special evening meal. Fasting is obligatory for Muslims, with the exception of pregnant women, the ill, children or diabetics. From sunrise to sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming any food, drinking liquids and smoking. Empathize with the poor and the needy; and learn to appreciate God’s blessings in their lives. Sharing food with the poor, inviting people for the meal that breaks the fast (iftâr), giving to charity, and completing a reading of the whole Quran during this month attract numerous divine rewards.
This article will provide tips for the non-Muslim traveler or expat in Iran during Ramadan, including things like dining advice, etiquette and understanding.
Manners for Visitors During Ramadan in Iran
Many travellers, upon visiting Iran for the first time during Ramadan, are concerned they will not find anywhere to eat because restaurants will be shut down during the day. Of course, while Muslims fast, this doesn’t mean no food can be found in Iran before sunset.
If you visit Iran during Ramadan, it is good manners to abstain from eating and drinking in public out of consideration for those observing the fast. Fast food outlets and restaurants are closed during daylight hours, but some restaurants especially in the hotels and grocery shops are not, and you would be able to have meals in hotels (all travelers are exempt from fasting).
What Etiquette Should I Keep in Mind?
First of all, consider the fact that you are in a Muslim country and a conservative dress code is appropriate. For women, head and hair must be covered so keep your hair, legs and shoulders covered.
During Ramadan, you must avoid obviously eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during the day. It’s fine to do so in some restaurants that are open or in your own hotel room.
What Are Iftar Dinners?
After the evening call to prayer (azân-e maghreb), the fast is broken with dates, sweet tea, bread, cheese, fresh herbs, thick herb soup with noodles (âsh-e reshteh) or porridge, halva, rice, and saffron pudding. If you’re walking through the city at the time when the fast is broken, you will be offered dates, tea, or soup by believers who may have made a pledge for a sick person to become healed, or for the fulfillment of any other wish. The response to such offers is Inshâ-allâh qabul bâsheh’ (May God accept your pledge [and assign a reward for it]).
Mashhad, an Important Destination for Fasting People
Mashhad is the most important religious city in Iran and is the home to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza. Many Iranians and Muslims visit this city during the holy month of Ramadan. People gather in Holy Shrine of Imam Reza to Pray together so their wishes would come true.
There are many delicious foods in Mashhad which are served specially for this month like Shole Mashhadi and Dizi.
Do Iranian Fast Religiously During Ramadan?
A vast majority people of religious cities like Mashhad and Qom fast during Ramadan but things are different among young people of cities like Tehran, the capital. In recent years Ramadan has been coincided with hot seasons and it’s impossible not to drink water and eat food during the long days of summer. Young people of Tehran have learned how to sneak bites here and there or light up a cigarette in deserted alleys. A few people acknowledge that it’s just easier to fast because there’s not any place to eat in the city, universities or companies. In the older and more religious neighborhoods of Tehran people still fast.
How is Everything Different?
It is known that people who fast should avoid any other sins so their prayers would be accepted by God. So everyone has a more spiritual attitude whether they are fasting or not. People try to be more friendly, put on a smile and act a bit nicer. Even the police reported that the crime rate falls down during this month.
When Is Ramadan?
The dates for Ramadan are based on the Islamic lunar calendar and depend on the traditional sighting of the crescent moon by eye. Predicting the dates for Ramadan is impossible in advance; sometimes the dates even vary between Islamic countries.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated on Eid Fitr with congregational prayers.