Ramadan in Saudi Arabia is characterized by a distinctive spiritual atmosphere that differs from anywhere in the world. It is the blessed month that all people in the kingdom wait. There are some traditions and customs that have not been changed or disappeared over time.
During Ramadan, you can see the great activity and joy of the Saudis. Malls are crowded with people buying foodstuffs, in addition to household adornments, and folk costumes. Saudi families, old and young, spend this month in a wonderful spiritual and faith atmosphere, especially in the last days of the month of Sha’ban.
The Saudis dedicate a day to celebrate “Shaabaniya” or “Shaabanah,” that is, preparing for the month of Ramadan at the end of the month of Shaaban. Banners and billboards welcoming Ramadan fill the streets and markets. On this day, family, friends, and neighbors gather, and all popular dishes and sweets are served.
The entry of the blessed month of Ramadan is confirmed by traditionally observing the crescent, despite the development of astronomy, and the ease of observing the days of the Hijri months. The celebration of its start begins with the phrase “Ramadan Kareem”, in addition to various methods, such as the method of the people of Asir who set heavy fires on the roofs of houses to receive this holy month.
One of the most prominent aspects of Ramadan and the most important features of the Ramadan atmosphere in Saudi Arabia is the decoration that celebrates the holy month. It is customary to decorate homes with lanterns and Ramadan-print bedspreads, in addition to serving utensils, such as plates and cups for Arabic coffee, all of which are printed with the colors used in Ramadan.
As for lighting the doors of houses with colored electric threads, decorating trees, hanging fabrics with the phrase Ramadan Kareem written on them, religious supplications, and Quranic verses, these are habits that do not disappear, but rather increase in splendor with the advent of the blessed month.
Different kinds of foods in Ramadan
Many foods are characteristic of Saudi cuisine in the month of Ramadan, such as Sambousek, Luqaimat, Tamees bread and beans, and Kabsa, which is one of the famous main dishes in the Kingdom that consists of chicken and rice and has a special and wonderful taste.
The Saudi women begin to prepare for the Ramadan meal by purchasing the various necessities and supplies, then they start to prepare some dishes, which helps to save time and effort during the preparation for the Iftar and leave room for worship during the day of Ramadan.
Saudis are used to hearing this famous sentence at the time of the Maghrib call to break the fast: “The cannon of iftar strikes,” followed by the sound of the Maghrib call to prayer, to announce the start of a new fasting day.
“Wake up, and limit the dime. Ramadan Kareem.” This is the phrase Al-Masharati, a word derived from the word Suhoor, and it is a job that he performs throughout the month of Ramadan only, and then disappears for the rest of the year.
His voice remains in our minds at the time of Suhoor as he beats on his small, distinctively shaped drum with his small sticks; to make a distinctive sound consisting of five beats in a certain tone between his calls to the sleepers to wake up and eat the Suhoor meal before dawn and the beginning of the fast of a new day.
At breakfast, the Saudis usually eat wet dates and water, which is what they call “breaking the empty stomach”. Then people return to eat light food such as soup, sambousek, and puff, and light items such as pastries, in addition to Ramadan juices, before sipping red tea with Ramadan sweets while watching Ramadan series and programs that accompany the Iftar time.
Saudis often start eating breakfast, such as chicken or meat dishes with rice, mandi, madhbi, kabsa, biryani, madfoon, compressed, Mathloutha and others, in addition to juices, the most important of which are vimto, lemon juice with mint or ginger, and orange juice with carrots. The most important thing on the breakfast table is the famous tamis bread.
Saudi families go together to perform Tarawih prayers after fumigating the house. Then they wait for the suhoor meal that the women prepare, which includes kabsa with meat or chicken as a main dish, as well as the sayadiyah, which consists of fish, and other popular dishes.
Family visits often begin after Tarawih prayers, and there is a tradition in some families that breakfast is allocated every day of Ramadan in the house of one of the family members periodically, starting with the house of the eldest member, and some distribute samples of iftar food to the neighbors so that everyone exchanges food among themselves.
Charity increases during Ramadan, such as setting up breakfast tables near mosques, and distributing light breakfast meals at traffic lights. After the twenty-seventh day of Ramadan, people start distributing Zakat al-Fitr and their alms to the poor, and they continue to do so even before the Eid prayer.
Many are keen to perform Umrah in Ramadan, and some perform I’tikaf in the Prophet’s Mosque or the Grand Mosque in the last ten nights of Ramadan.
Working hours and official working hours change in the Kingdom, so the number of working hours is reduced by an hour or two.
Ramadan between the present and the past
Fasting Ramadan in Saudi Arabia in the past differs from now. Some aspects of life often changed in many cities. Despite the harshness of life and the difficulty of living in the past, the high temperature, and the lack of means of air conditioning and refrigeration, people fasted with pleasure.
Sometimes Ramadan comes in a very hot atmosphere in some regions of the kingdom, the streets and squares are almost empty of pedestrians except when going to the noon prayer. Life begins in the streets and squares afternoon people try to fulfill their needs from the markets.
At the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan people in the past prepared for slaughtering sacrifices, especially sheep and goats, to prepare what the Ramadan tables need.
Ramadan in the mountains of Saudi Arabia and its villages has a special flavor, unforgettable memories, and beloved traditions. In many cities, a group of young people stay up late at night, in the playgrounds, and are close to God in mosques and places of worship.
From there, in the Al-Abla’ desert, west of Bisha south of Saudi Arabia, Mubarak Al-Anzai, one of the elderlies, talks about Ramadan in the past. “We used to suffer a hard fast, as we spent our whole day under the blazing sun, grazing livestock from camels and sheep,” He said.
“We were suffering from severe thirst to the point that we get very stressed, and yet life was beautiful. Our breakfast was very simple, it was no more than dates, coffee, and bread, which we bury in hot coals. Sometimes we drank juice extracted from dates and we call it “marisa” and camel milk. Iftar (breakfast) tables in Ramadan in the Bishi community were very popular and it is better to eat it with a little cold lemon.
Al-Anzai recalls games that they played in Ramadan in the past. They used to play games during Ramadan nights, which were groups of pebbles they move on the ground and its idea is similar to chess. The Suhoor meal consisted of bread, ghee, and milk.
Saudis often knew late about the start of Ramadan month in the past. Due to the lack of media, some Saudi people knew the start of the month on the fourth day. They only knew when someone came back from the cities or inform them of those who had a radio and they were few. In the current era, people are enjoying the comforts and breaking their fast with various types of food and drinks.
Entertainment in Ramadan
In some regions in the mountains, there is a lack of entertainment means and places that may help youth gatherings such as parks and clubs, young men prefer to play volleyball in the open air, forming for themselves a field, a network, and two teams. They wish that there would be Ramadan clubs or a Ramadan center that would be an outlet for them and spend their time in what is beneficial, especially since the time of Ramadan coincides with the summer vacation, there are no activities during the summer or Ramadan, while others head for the wilderness sessions where they spend the night.
Perhaps what distinguishes the spirituality of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, like other regions and governorates of the Kingdom, is the atmosphere of brotherhood, affection, interdependence, and Islamic harmony among the many members of the Muslim communities present in the province.
Many expatriate workers from the Arab and Islamic communities yearn to return to their homelands to fast the month of Ramadan among family, loved ones, and friends, but working conditions in Saudi Arabia prevent them from their desire.
To compensate for this, some cooperative offices for advocacy, guidance, and educating communities in various regions of the Kingdom are undertaking a fasting breakfast project to bring harmony and brotherhood among Muslims and spread the spirit of cooperation, brotherhood, and equality between them as if they were between their families and their brothers.
The benefactors’ race in the advocacy offices, along with volunteers, to set up halls and Ramadan Iftar camps in the middle of villages and neighborhoods. They are provided with air conditioners, water, and mattresses.
“The customs of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia are no different from that in Egypt, and we in Saudi Arabia have become brothers as if we are among the family in Egypt,” An Egyptian expatriate said.
He added: If we gather with our Arab and Muslim brothers at the Iftar table, fraternity, affection, and love are born between us, while Muhammad Asif from Pakistan says: The collective iftar makes him feel as if he is in Pakistan between family and loved ones.
The blessed month of Ramadan adds more community communication, especially in the evening period, and Al-Hara Mosque remains the point of intense social communication daily for men as well as women when they perform Tarawih prayers together, while some form groups for Samar after Tarawih prayers.
The group usually consists of between 5 to 10 people who had agreed before entering the holy month on the night meeting in Ramadan, they meet every night in someone’s house, so that he takes over their hospitality until after midnight and usually offers them a sacrifice (dinner) in addition to what the trip is proud of.
Throughout the session of Ramadan food and drinks are served. Meetings continue until the twentieth night of Ramadan, after which the congregation devotes themselves to praying Tahajjud and worshiping in the last ten days of Ramadan.
There are other meetings held between families and neighbors, especially at the level of women who visit and chat on the nights of Ramadan, and each of them brings what she has from the breakfast table on that day.
Women in Ramadan are the most hard-working, especially in the afternoon until sunset, as they are busy in the kitchens preparing breakfast and competing to provide distinctive and delicious Ramadan food and drinks to their families.
Benefits of fasting in Ramadan.
Fasting during Ramadan controls sugar levels and fights infections. Fasting brings many benefits to the body. In Ramadan, some may feel tired from the long hours of fasting, but the good news is that fasting provides a lot of health for your body.
Fasting is healthy for your body and in fact, it can have several health benefits if you maintain it the right way. Here are some scientific facts that you should know about fasting.
1-It promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance.
Several studies show that fasting helps improve blood sugar levels in the body, and it can be particularly beneficial for people who have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be improved with the help of intermittent fasting, regulation of the increase in blood sugar, and intermittent fasting or alternate fasting can be effective in reducing calorie intake and reducing the body’s sensitivity to it more efficiently.
2-It helps fight infections
Acute inflammation is the cause of many diseases and infections. If fasting helps improve the condition of chronic or acute inflammation, it can be useful in treating many serious problems, that includes: –
Low level of viral or bacterial infections
3-It promotes heart health
Heart disease can cause life-threatening complications and is one of the leading causes of death around the world, accounting for about 31.5% of global deaths, so anything that can lower this rate is very beneficial for health. Fasting reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. Switching up your diet and implementing a type of fasting can help improve your overall health.
4-It enhances brain function
We all know that the brain is one of the most important parts of the body. There have been some studies that suggest that fasting can have a significant impact on your cognitive health. People who fast at regular intervals or follow an intermittent fasting routine have shown improvements in brain caliber and brain structure. It can help develop neurons and promote cognitive health. It can also help you treat neurodegenerative disorders.
5-It helps lose weight
Most types of fasting can be based on losing weight and improving body weight according to BMI. Fasting can improve calorie intake and can help dissolve excess body fat by using it during the fasting period. Fasting also helps boost metabolism. Maintaining the norepinephrine neurotransmitter that leads to weight loss, a full day of fasting can reduce body fat by up to 9% and significantly reduce body fat for over 12-24 weeks.
6- It increases the secretion of growth hormone
Growth hormone found in a type of protein is an essential aspect of health that is beneficial for improving metabolism, according to research, this is the main hormone responsible for body weight and muscle strength and improves metabolism, naturally helping to increase levels of growth hormone in the body, and helps in Fasting for 24 hours significantly increased the rate of growth hormone production by 5-fold.