For all of you that don't live in a Muslim country... I thought it might be fun to give you a taste of life during Ramadan in Bahrain.
Let's start w/ the bad things first:
The thing is... you fast from sun up to sun down during Ramadan. So... when you get up in the mornings, there's no drinking of water or any type of beverage, no intake of food, no smoking, no sex, no nothing. Even for non-Muslims... there is none of this.. well, unless you're inside your own home, of course. ;)
Every restaurant on the island is closed until after 5:00 p.m. every day. You can find little cold stores open in the mornings in case you're not fasting, but you are not allowed, by law, to eat, drink or smoke on the streets or in public during Ramadan. If you are caught doing this, you will be arrested. I can imagine how difficult it is for the ppl who smoke... and who are accustomed to smoking in their cars while driving some place or while they're walking on the streets. But... this is a BIG no no.
All workplaces close the kitchens during Ramadan so you have no access to water, tea, coffee - nothing. If you are non-Muslim, you should close your door when eating so that no one will see. It's of VERY bad manners to eat or drink in front of a Muslim during the fasting hours of the holy month.
If you're fasting, it's very common to have severe headaches in the first several days of Ramadan, and many Muslims stay in bad moods during the holy month because they're fasting. You'll find tempers flaring over small things and ppl are more argumentative, in general.
At 3:00 a.m. every morning, for a month, in some neighborhoods (this happens in ours every morning), young men and boys march thru the neighborhood banging on drums. This is to wake everyone up so that they can have their last meal before sunrise. I don't eat before sunrise... and because I'm a light sleeper, this wakes me up every morning and then I can't get back to sleep. This year, they have other instruments to accompany the drums... and there are probably 15 young men in the group. It's quite a nice wake up for any of you that find it hard to sleep at night... I have this to look forward to every year! And this year, it's especially loud and seems to last forever! ;)
And one of the big things that can be very bad, depending on where you work, is that so many ppl stay up until 4:00 a.m or 5:00 a.m. every morning, that they are practically like zombies at the work place. At some companies, it doesn't matter, but when you're busy and need the help of some ppl, it can be very aggravating because ppl are too tired and can't function properly. Ppl also keep their children up until these hours and then send them off to school the next day. Imagine trying to learn and study when you've only had a couple hours of sleep!
Some of the good things about Ramadan:
Ppl tend to give more to the poor during this month. You'll find famlies making big meals especially for the poor.
Restaurants and coffee shops are open until the wee hours of the morning and you'll always find huge crowds of ppl out and about during Ramadan. Ppl love to socialize during Ramadan and many visit their family members and friends during this month.
Huge meals are prepared for Iftar (breaking of the fast) every night of the month. This is especially good. It reminds me a lot of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in the States, altho the meals are much different. You'll find a large array of food items including different rice dishes, samboosa, chicken or lamb, soups, salads, harees (some type of smashed beans w/ shredded meat and olive oil on the top - very tasty!!), kufta (meatballs w/ a tomato-based sauce and potatoes), thareed (soggy lebanese type of bread w/ potatoes, tomatoes, meat, onions, carrots cooked on the top - very delish), hummos, olives, dates.... almost any kind of food that you can think of. It's so wonderful and I always look forward to Iftar during Ramadan. There are many other types of food, but I don't know all the names - so I welcome anyone to give more detail.
Sweets/desserts. These are always so wonderful during Ramadan. There are so many that I especially like, but I don't know the names. I like Um Ali... it's so good. And there are many other desserts that have cinnamin and I always love anything w/ this spice.
There's also another dinner at around 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 - sometimes later - in order for ppl to get together. It's called ghabga. Lots of companies do these types of dinners for their employees during the month of Ramadan. At these dinners, you'll also find a huge assortment of food and sweets... anything your heart can imagine... you'll find.
You get more movies and shows on the TV during Ramadan. It can be quite enjoyable but sometimes the shows aren't very good.
Many coffee shops have musicians during Ramadan, so it's always a lot of fun to sit at coffee shops during the night to listen to the music and have a good time, if you're a night owl - which many tend to be during Ramadan.
There are usually lots of sales during the month of Ramadan at clothing shops, electronic shops and the likes. So you can get some really good deals on items.... it's always fun to shop during Ramadan cuz if you're looking for a big TV, this is the time to buy it.
These are just some of the things I can think of... but I thought it might give some of you that aren't familiar w/ Ramadan a glimpse into the life of a few during this holy month.
I will add this particular thought ... I find that Muslims have it very easy in this part of the world during Ramadan. Everything is closed and there is no temptation in front of them so they have it rather easy, I think. In the States.... this is where the true test of faith comes in... or in any other non-Muslim country, for that matter. Wouldn't it be better to allow restaurants and such to be open? Isn't that where the true test of faith comes to play? Having what you desire in front of you but still not partaking in the exquisite fruit? If everything is closed and there's no chance of slipping... then where does the true test come in?