Ramadan in Iran: 2023
Ramadan in Iran
Ramadan (pronounced Ramazan by Iranians) is a significant time for Muslims in Iran and is observed as a month of fasting, prayer, and reflection. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the holiest month in Islam.
During this time, Muslims in Iran abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, and instead focus on spiritual activities such as reading the Quran, attending mosque for prayers, and performing acts of charity. Ramadan is a time for self-reflection, increased devotion, and spiritual purification.
The fast is broken each evening with a meal called Iftar, and families often gather together to break their fast and share in the blessings of the month. Overall, Ramadan is an important time of year for Muslims in Iran to deepen their faith and connect with their community.
The atmosphere in cities often changes with the start of Ramadan. Streets and shops are covered with colorful lights and floral patterns. People (particularly the older generation) greet one another by saying “Ramadan Mubarak”, which means “Happy Ramadan”.
The reason for fasting during Ramadan is for people to understand the hardship endured by the poor; as such, people are expected to go about their daily lives as normal — albeit at a slower and reduced schedule.
Iftar & Sahari
People who fast eat twice every day: Once in the early morning (Sahari) before dawn (Fajr) Prayer, and once in the evening (Iftar) after sunset (Maghrib) Prayer. Fasting takes place between Sahari and Iftar. No eating is allowed in public during fasting hours (sunrise to sunset), so those who don’t fast (including non-Muslims) can only indulge themselves in private.
During Ramadan, most restaurants are closed during fasting hours but they will be soon open after Iftar. However, an increasing number of food establishments do remain open during daylight hours offering food — usually cold dishes.
A small but growing number of places also offer cooked foods during fasting hours, however, they are infrequent. You may also be able to buy ready-made foods from supermarkets and corner shops.
A variety of foods and pastries are served during the month of Ramadan. One of the most popular foods during Iftar is “Ash”. It is a sort of thick lentil soup and has different types; the most common ones being Ash-e-reshteh and Ash-e sholeh qalamkar.
Ash-e-reshteh is vegetarian-friendly and it contains vegetables, beans, and a type of noodle. Ash-e sholeh qalamkar, however, has meat and is a bit spicy. While these two are staples during Ramadan, every region also offers its own type of ash, so be sure to try them!
If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck! Two types of very sweet, deep-fried pastries called Zulbia and Bamieh are wildly popular during Ramadan. Like other foods mentioned so far, they’re available throughout the year but they are in a particularly high demand at this of the year.
Also, no Iftar table is complete without a plateful of dates, especially Mazafati or Bam dates. They’re nutritious and tasty, and most importantly, you have probably never tasted it before.
Rituals related to Ramadan are mostly practiced by Shia Muslims in Iran. Ceremonies (Ahya or vigil) are held in mosques across the country on the 19th and 23rd of Ramadan.
The 19th is a sad day for Muslims, for it was on this day over 1,300 years ago that Imam Ali, the first Shia imam (fourth for Sunnis) was struck with a sword and suffered a grave wound that would take his life two days later.
The 23rd marks “Shab-e-Qadr”, or the “Night of Decree”, according to Shias. They believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet on this day. Sunnis believe the Shab-e-Qadr falls on the 27th of Ramadan. Muslims believe that God forgives all sins on this day if the person repents.
A key part of the holy month is the sighting of the moon. As mentioned earlier, a moon sighting is essential to know when the month ends and Fitr celebrations can begin. Observance of the crescent moon at the end of the Islamic month of Sha’ban is also integral to knowing when Ramadan begins.
Eid al-Fitr (or Eyd-e Fetr in Farsi) marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal. It is a joyous occasion celebrated by all Muslims regardless of their sect. Many Iranian go to their local mosques to perform communal prayers, while others celebrate it at home with their families. Some also go to the streets and distribute cookies, pastries, and juice. If you’re offered anything, it’s nice to accept!
Eid-e Fitr Prayers in Tehran
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar that lasts 354 days—11 days shorter than the solar calendar. In other words, the Islamic calendar shifts every year with respect to a tropical year. So make sure to check your calendar before making travel plans.
Nowruz and Ramadan
This year, Ramadan in Iran will bump into the Persian New Year Nowruz and coincide with Nature Day or Sizdah Be-dar where families are expected to leave their homes and spend the day outside in nature spots.
However, there are some exclusions to fasting when traveling and for vulnerable groups and likely those observing will use this exclusion of travel to get around the strict rules.
Nowruz, which translates to “new day,” is the Persian New Year, and is celebrated on the first day of spring. It is a time for renewal, joy, and family gatherings. On the other hand, Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, observed by fasting from sunrise to sunset, prayer, and reflection. In 2023, the start of Ramadan is expected to overlap with the end of the Nowruz celebrations, leading to a unique and meaningful intersection of these two events.
This coincidence offers an opportunity for Muslims and Iranians to come together and celebrate the shared values of community, gratitude, and spiritual renewal. It also highlights the rich cultural diversity of Iran, where people of different faiths and backgrounds come together to celebrate their traditions and beliefs. Overall, the overlapping of Ramadan and Nowruz in 2023 serves as a reminder of the importance of unity and respect for one another’s traditions and cultures.
Ramadan opening hours
Many industries in Iran work full-time during the Ramadan period, unlike other countries in the region, the Islamic Republic rarely changes its working hours.
Usually, offices make a special dispensation to those who observe the fast rituals and offer reduced working hours. However, if you are fasting, consult with your employer beforehand.
Useful phrases to know!
Impress your Iranian colleagues and friends or answer back in a seasonal greeting in stores by saying:
Ramazan Mubarak = Happy Ramadan
Nowruz Mobarak = Happy Nowruz
Eid Mobarak = Happy Eid
Ghabool Bashe = May you be accepted [by God]
Eltemase Do’a = May your prayers and fasting be accepted [by God]
Can non-Muslims get involved?
Of course. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, many iftar and sahari (night and morning meals) are open to the public across the country. Even if you have never fasted, communities will be happy to teach people their customs and traditions.
Here are a number of ways you can get involved in the monthly festivities
- Greet devout Muslims with the phrase “Ramazan Mubarak” at the beginning of the month, the word is different from the Arabic phrase “Ramadan Kareem” which is used in Persian Gulf states. In a rough translates to “Happy Ramadan” in Persian.
- Giving and taking “Nazri” or charity food. This tradition often happens around communities with neighbors knocking on doors and offering food. Usually, people will offer a Persian soup with noodles called “Ash”.
- Fasting along with your Muslim colleagues for a day or two and breaking the fast together at the time of iftar.
What should you and shouldn’t do?
During Ramadan, drinking and eating in public is considered very offensive to people fasting and can attract comments from passers-by and in the worse case arrest if caught by police. If an individual wants to eat or drink during the daylight hours during Ramadan it has to be done indoors and out of public view.
Are there exceptions to Ramadan’s rules in Iran?
Several clerics have said that it is not recommended to fast for those who have underlying medical conditions or women who are pregnant. However, the same rules apply to those people as well in public. If you are going on a long journey that takes several hours, then the usual rules do not apply, and tourist destinations and motorways service stations offer food and drink to give you respite from the hot sun.
What are the rules for dressing in Ramadan?
Iran has set rules on how women should dress including the mandatory hijab. It is advised that people do not wear revealing or tight-fitting clothing and ensure most areas are covered like the rest of the year.
Charity in Ramadan, what to do?
Charity is an essential part of Islam and is even more significant during the holy period. It is always good for companies to offer Ramadan treats as sundown occurs, and special events sponsored by firms are becoming an increasingly important part of the period.