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What’s Ramadan like in your country?

The month of Ramadan starts tomorrow (22 August). We asked our Observers from Algeria to Iraq to tell us what goes on in their country. Read more and take part in the post...

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Posted on Flickr by Raaid.

The month of Ramadan starts tomorrow (22 August). We asked our Observers from Algeria to Iraq to tell us what goes on in their country.

Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims. That means that between sunrise and sunset, you can't drink, you can't eat, and you can't have sex. Fasting is an exercise in purification. It's a demonstration of obedience to god, and a way of heightening your piety by following the ways of the prophets. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the profession of faith, praying, giving to charity and making the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Certain aspects of the celebration are found in most Muslim countries, for example, breaking the fast by eating dates. But there are also traditions that come with the event specific to each country. A few of our Observers tell us about their own Ramadan.

You can also tell us about Ramadan in your country. Firstly register on the site (here's an example of a profile page), and then post your comment. It will appear alongside a photo of yourself.

The delicacies that come with fasting

Pastries. Posted on Flickr by "Joyful Reverie".

A Ramadan meal in Blida, north Algeria. Posted by "Mekfouldji".

Dates are an essential during Ramadan. Posted by par "Zanakhan".

A meal in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Posted by "Rahmanmm".

“We play a game with rings”

IRAQ: Haydar Aloui runs a clothes shop in Baghdad.

In Baghdad where temperatures reach over 50 degrees Celsius, people following the fast are more thirsty than hungry. For that reason, before Ramadan starts we go to buy lots of bottles of juice (orange, date etc). We also stock up on grains (broad beans and lentils etc) in order to make traditional soups.

There's a very popular game that we play during Ramadan here called "the ring game". Two teams of 10 to 20 people get together. You have to hand over your rings to one of the members of your team and then the other team has to guess who is hiding them. People usually give themselves away by blushing.

The media also put on special programming. There are many funny reality-TV programmes which run in collaboration with local banks to raise money for people who were displaced during the war."

“For newlyweds, it’s the time when you invite the husband’s family and friends to the house”

COMOROS: Mohammed Abdelkader is a journalist from the Comoran capital Moroni.  

In the Comoros islands, social life becomes far more public during Ramadan. It's in the public places, the ‘bangwé', that people meet up just after breaking the fast, the Iftar. That's when we head to the mosque where dates and coffee are on offer.

After that everyone heads home to have a feast of fish, meat skewers, fried bananas, grilled manioc [cassava root], tea with milk and thyme pancakes cooked in butter which we call ‘couscouma'.

For newlyweds, it's the time when you invite the husband's family and friends to the house. I say husband because in Comoros it's the woman's family who provides the home when a couple marry."

“We live by the night”

ALGERIA: Fayçal Ouaret is a writer and architect. He lives in the city of Setif, 300km east of Alger.

Algeria is not a place where people live by the night. Except for during Ramadan. Shops are open all night long, the streets stay lit and are very active. People stay out until ‘suhur' [the last meal before the fast continues]. We buy from street stalls, go to gatherings and attend religious festivities. The month is a particularly happy time for children, mainly due to the good food and sweet treats they get to eat. It's a whole month of festivities for everybody, except the stock exchange. 

The busy night life obviously has an effect on daytime activities. We start work an hour later during Ramadan."

“I hang a big lantern on the balcony”

EGYPT: Asser Yasser is a blogger and stay-at-home mother from Cairo.

Like many Egyptians, before Ramadan I make sure that each of my children has their own little lantern, and hang a big one on the balcony. It's a shame that the tradition is coming to an end. When I was a child we'd light the lanterns just after the Iftar [the breaking of the fast] and then begin to sing children's songs. Today, the kids sing pop songs.   

We also have to get the eating plan sorted out. I've already bought dried fruits - figs, dates, raisons, dried apricots - that I need for the Ramadan pastries, the famous ‘Kénéfé' cheesecakes.

We look after ourselves and we're more pious during Ramadan. There are more family gatherings and dinners between friends during this period."