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3 New Ramadan Traditions that Should be Ditched


In times gone by, this would include laying a sheet of food outside the veranda of the house so that passing travelers and poor people would be tempted to come in and break their fast with better food than would be available to them at the time. In other areas they would put out special lamps in the streets to light the way for those on their way to the mosque. However, not all traditions are good and these days we have our fair share of horrible traditions that need to be ditched.

3. Hospitality tents

Here in the Western world we may not be so aware of these hospitality tents, but in parts of the Muslim world they have become part of the Ramadan scenery. The basic premise goes like this. Large companies and successful hotels want to get in on this Ramadan action to promote themselves, but how can they do it in a way that is not seen as trying to hijack what is essentially a month of abstinence and fasting? The answer – as it is to so many questions regarding Muslims – free food.

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Originally, Ramadan tents were meant to be set up by the rich so that poor Muslims could break their fast a little more lavishly than what they were used to. But like most good ideas, corporations took it on and now you have Ramadan tents that cater for the wealthy and extremely wealthy with important clients invited to stuff their faces in the hope that before they slip into a hyperglycemic coma, they’ll remember the name of the company or hotel that did this to them. Rather than spending our money on the poor, we spend it on ourselves.

2. Late night dramas

Similar to large companies and hotels, TV execs were also losing sleep over how to use the period of Ramadan to make their soap operas even more popular. Their solution was simple yet diabolical. As the blanket of night descends, millions of Muslims would not be drawn to the mosque but instead would gather like moths around their TV screens because late night to suhoor time is the new prime time.

The situation is so bad that even the BBC have stated that more than 100 TV series are produced especially for Ramadan! There’s something to keep everyone from spiritual reflection – from 7 to 77 years old, they’ve got you covered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against the odd good TV show, but if the period between Iftaar and Suhoor was reserved for The Apprentice, The Office, Lost, Homeland, Prison Break, The Wire, The Simpsons and the latest Simon Cowell show – well, I’d say something fishy was going on. It’s almost like they want to distract me…. Oh.

1. Gluttony

I have no hard stats for this – probably because all the Muslim statisticians were too busy stuffing their faces – but it is de rigueur nowadays for Muslims to have such a wide variety of food on the table during Ramadan that we have turned a month of daytime fasting into a month of nightly gluttony. Of course, this is a generalization as large parts of the Muslim world have barely any food at all and are in a state of constant starvation. However, the parts that do have enough to eat seem to go nuts during Ramadan and cook enough food daily to feed a small army.

No wonder non-Muslims look perplexed when Muslims who keep putting on weight explain to them that Ramadan is a month of fasting. “Does that mean you eat nothing but fast food for the whole month?” “Well, yes… but only at night.” Of course there are those that do eat normal amounts and get into the spirit of Ramadan, but more and more of us are in danger of turning Ramadan into an annual religious remake of the documentary Supersize Me.

 Lesson from history?

Ramadan is a beautiful time of the year – a month of reflection, spiritual regeneration and abstinence. If you’re not seeing your bank balance reduced by spending on the poor rather than yourself, losing touch with your favorite TV shows and losing weight – then you’re probably not doing it right. And Allah knows best.

More posts on Ramadan here


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Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - National Council Member, Muslim Council of Britain | - Lead, National Muslim Covid Response Group | - Council Member, British Islamic Medical Association | - Founder, Charity Week for Orphans and children in need | - Co-Founder, Islamic History Channel | - International Director, FIMA Lifesavers



  1. islam and human evolution

    July 31, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    this is a informative article that help me a lot.

  2. Abdullah

    July 31, 2012 at 1:56 PM


    I think there needs to be a much more forceful reproach of these kinds of behavior, especially #3 which is, in my eyes, something truly egregious. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that half of the sweets are thrown away at a masjid iftar.

    … and you know that someone has had too much to eat when the person standing next to you during tarawih sounds like they’re gasping for air the whole time!

  3. Cookie

    July 31, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Really good article. I think at the end of the day, gluttony is the worst sin which we Muslims should struggle to stay clear off. It not only makes us eat excessively but also keeps us craving for more and more of everything. More entertainment, more fun, more food, more outings, dramas, riches. The list of items we “want” for satisfaction never ends. Our voracious appetite is what we should be controlling in Ramadan!

  4. EnjoyingMuslimMatters

    August 1, 2012 at 3:56 AM

    Hahaha, an annual religious remake of the documentary Supersize Me. Sad but how true. Inshallah, may Allah (swt) give us the courage to give up these traditions.

  5. Rhodonna

    August 2, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Thank you for this. As a revert I’ve often wondered why and HOW some in the Ummah “feast” at night. After a day of fasting I can hardly eat come iftar. Thirsty yes, hungry no. But that’s just me. I usually lose about 20 pounds, only to find them again… lol. But seriously, it seems to me the food between iftar and suhoor should be modest and save the “feast” for Eid. But, I am a revert with much to learn….and forgive me if I sound judgemental, that’s not my intention. Salaam

  6. InternetRetard

    August 3, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    Funny how all the comments are only about #3, maybe there is a little bit of guilt in all of us, I must admit I do induldge at night and this article is a reminder, so shukran. Tonight we are having a mass iftaar programme in our community for everyone so that we break our fast amongst the poor. (I think this is a good idea) however it can easily go wrong when brothers decide to feast and leave nothing for the poor guy sitting next to them.

  7. Andrew Jones

    August 6, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Great post Muhammad,

    Please continue to expose the contradictions!

    It it is so easy to be beguiled . We need more often to be reminded then informed.

  8. Anon's Oddyssee

    August 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    In the UAE, we have hospitality tents set at most mosques. The poor people go there to eat for free. But I agree about the late night dramas, most of them are absolutely silly and ridiculous.

  9. shahid ali khan

    September 7, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    It is estimated that about 150,000 Muslims travel to Makkah for Umra every year.
    And the average cost of the entire trip is around Rs. 140,000/- Therefore, the
    annual amount spent by Indian Muslims on Umra alone works out to a whopping Rs.2100 crores!
    We would never ever consider giving this sum to the poor we want to enjoy ourselves and earn sawaab.Are we ready to ditch this tradition.

    • Lina

      July 5, 2014 at 8:42 PM

      Salaam Brother,

      I don’t think that Umrah is a tradition to be ditched. We should all be striving to attain reward, and I for one would jump at the opportunity to go for Umrah. We should use our blessings and such opportunities to draw closer to Allah and be thankful. I think rather it would be better to reconsider the cost structure of our endeavors.

      For example, go for Umrah but instead of bringing a boatload of gifts back for everyone and their mama, take the time to worship, make dua for those relatives/friends and not waste time/budget frivolously. We can then prioritize the needs of the truly needy and share the wealth we will be accountable for with the poor.

      Not that there is anything wrong with gifts. This was just an example that I’ve seen that there are many expectations that create an artificial requirement rather than sincerely gift giving. If we wish to give gifts to loved ones, perhaps make a personal sacrifice and stay in modest accommodation and eat simply. Then, there is plenty left to share in the Way of Allah.

      Reduce the costs with the intention to share with and benefit others. Are there more simple travel options offered from India perhaps? Unfortunately, the travel industry is saturated with expensive packages with all sorts of unnecessary luxaries catering to the consumerism agenda, maximum profits rather than necessary services rendered encouraging us all to live beyond our means for comfort and ostentatious designs.

      Maybe your comment was more directed at wanton extravagance with a disregard towards others needs and not at Umrah itself. I agree this is definitely a tradition we need to ditch. All this extravagance will be nought but loss on a Day when we wish we could come back to the opportunities to do good. Allah save us. In sha Allah, we can all assist one another in doing the good and keeping sincere intentions. May Allah help us to do this. Ameen.

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