This year, June marks one of the most important international holy times: Ramadan. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar marks a time of fasting and prayer throughout the Islamic world and provides amazing opportunities, and occasional difficulties, for travelers in the Middle East and other Islamic regions.
Ramadan marks the month when the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the prophet Muhammed. Many consider this month even more important because of the added blessings that are believed to be bestowed upon adherents for fasting and doing good deeds toward others.
Fasting during this time of the year does not mean a complete abstention from food, but Muslims do not partake in any food or drink from dawn until dusk. Reciting passages of the Qur’an is another practice, and some mosques and individuals read aloud one-thirtieth of the book every day for the duration of Ramadan.
Id al-Fitr (or Eid al-Fitr) is a major celebration marking the conclusion of Ramadan. Translated to the “Feast of the Fast-Breaking,” it starts the day after Ramadan ends and last for three days. This celebration includes special prayers, meals with friends and family and gift exchanges.
Travelers should be aware of issues that may result from Ramadan celebrations. Restaurants or cafes may be closed during the day, making it difficult for visitors to find food or drink. Additionally, in some countries, it is illegal to break the Ramadan fast. Although it is not clear whether these restrictions apply to tourists, be sure to check before you travel during the holy month.
There are also a few health preparations that need to be taken before traveling. Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations are generally suggested for the Middle East and other Islamic countries as well as an anthrax vaccination in specific cases of long-term stay. To find out more about these vaccines for travel and other options, contact a Passport Health travel specialist today.
Despite these potential difficulties, Ramadan provides an opportunity for visitors to learn more about and experience a culture potentially very different from their own.
To learn more about Ramadan see this BBC report on the holy month.
Have additional questions about travel medicine needs? See our travel medicine advice page.