Ramadan in Bangladesh

By Mir Lutful Kabir Saadi
journalist and researcher

Ramadan In Bangladesh
Noorani method Qur'an learning class.
Holy Ramadan is the most significant month in the daily life of the people of Bangladesh. Ramadan arrives here with tranquility, sanctity, festivity, and philanthropy; it changes the entire lifestyle of the society.
Satan truly does keep a distance from society in Ramadan. Mosques are overflowing with people, while many cinema halls are closed, and smokers are out of the street. A noble mood and positive changes are evident among people in the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan touches the lives of people living even in remote villages of the country. Festivities begin with the sighting of the moon, indicating the start of the holy month. People gather under the open sky to see the moon. They chant "Allahu Akbar" meaning "God is Great" after the moon is sighted, and children and adolescents jump with joy in the streets.

Celebrating the Holy Qur'an

Ramadan comes as a month of the holy Qur'an. Thus, programs teaching the correct recitation of the Qur'an are arranged by various religious organizations during this month. "Noorani " is one of the popular methods practiced by adults wishing to correctly recite the Qur'an. Hundreds of mosques arrange Noorani-method meetings during day time in Ramadan.

This month attracts many, especially the educated elite, to the Qur'an. A slogan of "Recite Qur'an, understand it, and build life with its light" has become increasingly popular. Tafseer Mahfils (festivals for the interpretation of the Qur'an) and other programs are organized to spread the teachings of the Qur'an. Special fairs on copies of the Qur'an and Islamic books are organized with attractive discounts.

Both electronic and print media provide special coverage highlighting the

Iftar items on sale in Bangladesh

significance of Ramadan. Radio Bangladesh arranges special programs during sahur (meal before fasting) and iftar (meal to break the fast) time. Most TV channels telecast special programs stressing the importance of this month and take cautionary measures to ensure modesty in programs and advertisements. Print media frequently publish special features, reports, articles, and photos covering the event.

Food in Ramadan

Iftar provides another opportunity to observe the changes that take place in Ramadan.

The "Iftar party" has become a popular phenomenon in Bangladesh. Political parties, trade unions, and socio-religious and student organizations arrange "Iftar parties," which also act as forums for the intermingling of people from different social and political backgrounds.


When it is time to break the fast, the streets become almost empty. People return to their homes to break fast with their beloved family members.  A number of special dishes called Iftari — foods for breaking fast — add to the festivity of the month.Iftari are also prepared everyday among all the mosques of the country, even in the remote villages.

Often during Ramadan, the daily fast is broken with a few dates. Traditional Bangladeshi Iftaris also include special items like sarbat (sorbet made of sugar and lemon), muri (puffed rice), piazu (fried onion and pulses), beguni (fried brinjals), jilapi (spiral sweet), butt (chick-peas), halim ( a curry made ofpulses and meat).

Mosques and Prayers

Throughout Ramadan, mosques in Bangladesh are packed with the Muslim faithful. Even non-practicing Muslims go to mosques regularly in this month.

Baitul Mukarram, the national mosque of Bangladesh , is seen overflowing with devotees in Jumu`ah and Tarawih Prayer. In various parts of the country, those who do not find place inside the mosque pray in adjacent streets, particularly in Ramadan's Jumu`ah Prayer.

Most people pray long 20 rak`ahs of Tarawih after `Isha' Prayer. However, eight rak`ahs are also common in different mosques. People seldom miss the chance of completing the recitation of the holy Qur'an through Tarawih Prayer. Usually a complete recitation of the Qur'an in the Tarawih Prayer is completed on the 27th day of Ramadan, popularly called Laylat Al-Qadr (Arabic for "Night of Power"). Although, according to Prophet Muhammad's saying (peace and blessings upon him), this night might be available in any odd night of the last 10 days of Ramadan. Nevertheless, people bestow importance on the night of the 27th Ramadan, trying to spend its entirety in prayers, dhikr, and Qur'an recitations in the mosque.

While most men perform Tarawih Prayer in mosques, women pray this salah at home. However, many mosques also have special arrangement for women. Many mosques also have dos and don'ts from the Qur'an read in the local language – Bangla. Having finished their prayers, families are early to bed and early to rise for sehery (foods for sahur). After sehery and the Fajr Prayer, they sleep again and many get up late.

Religious Observances

During the last 10 days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to stay awake through most of the night and was most diligent in worship. Following the path of the beloved Prophet, many people of the country join in i`tikaf (Arabic for "spiritual retreat in the mosque"). They observe fast during the day and occupy themselves with dhikr (Arabic for "the remembrance of Allah"), performing voluntary prayers — apart from the obligatory prayers performed in congregation — and studying the Qur'an day and night. Devoting their time thus fully to the remembrance of Allah, they hope to receive divine favors and blessings connected with the blessed night.

This is the month when rich people pay their zakah, a two-and-a-half percent share of their pure wealth, to the poor. Muslims believe that any good deed in this month is repaid by Allah manifold, hence charity increases in Ramadan. The month of fasting also helps them feel the hardship of the poor. Usually, lungis (a length of cloth wrapped around the lower half of the body, comparable to the Malaysian sarong) and sarees (a length of cloth draped by women) were distributed in Bangladesh among the poor people.

People of Bangladesh express their heartfelt love for this month by many means including, naming their sons "Ramzan" (as "Ramadan" is called in Bangla language.) Ramadan helps maintain the family and social bond in the country; people are cautious and try to avoid unlawful and improper deeds. They do not speak ill, and crime rates decline to the lowest level in the country during this month.

Cultural and Religious Fest

The two most important festivals in Bangladesh are Eid Al-Fitr, which comes at the end of Ramadan and `Eid Al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, which follows two months and 10 days later. On both occasions, families and friends exchange visits. Those who hail from countryside and stay in the cities go back to meet their family members and celebrate the festival with them. As `Eid Al-Fitr approaches, markets and shopping malls are illuminated with colorful lights to attract customers.

Ramadan and `Eids are not only religious occasions, but also signs of the deeper Islamic culture and consciousness of Bangladesh. One of the mediums such a culture expresses itself through is poetry. Bangladesh's national poet, the late Kazi Nazrul Islam, wrote a very popular poem on Ramadan and `Eid


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