One of the things I miss most about Abu Dhabi is the month of Ramadan and the nightly iftars. I will not go into great detail about Ramadan here, but it is the month of fasting for all muslims. The timing of the month changes by about 11 days per year if I am not mistaken. The beginning determined by the sighting of the moon. During Ramadan, muslims fast essentially from sunrise to sunset and these timings change each day as well. In Islam, there are five pillars of faith. One is fasting. Another is praying. These two are emphasized heavily during Ramadan. It is a special time of year and people greet each other with, “Ramadan Mubarak!” Or “Ramadan Kareem!” Blessed or generous. People rise early before sun up to have a meal and then don’t eat, drink or smoke until after sundown. They also do not have sexual relations. It is tough, especialky in the heat of the Middle East. When they are called to the evening prayer after sunset, they prey and then break the fast with a meal called, iftar.
Iftar is meant to be shared with others in the community, families and friends. There are iftars in all of the restaurants as well. Always amazing feasts. People are very ready to eat to say the least. Many times fill their plate and then wait for the moment to begin eating. Great discipline. The Sheikh Zayed mosque does a huge iftar for the public, primarily laborers that have little money. They do this every night and I have read it is 10,000 meals per night. Zakat, or charitable giving is also one of the five pillars of Islam and this is an example of that.
It is a spectacular sight to see thousands of people waiting to be served. My father in law and I sat down next to the many people and we all received a box with big servings of rice, meat, and other foods along with dates. The fast is meant to be broken eating three dates as Mohammed (peace be upon him) did. We ended up giving our box to others as I knew they could use it at home.
The mosque is sensational so we also took the time to tour the grounds and saw prayers in progress. All in all an amazing night and a must do if in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. If not, try to find an iftar in your community. You will be welcome.