UAE worshippers attend morning prayers on first day of Ramadan

Moon-sighting committee has declared Monday as the first day of holy month

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The majority of Muslims around the world are to gather in mosques on Monday for morning prayers on the first day of the holy month.

In the UAE, people worshipped early in the morning to mark the start of the month-long fast – after the Moon-sighting committee on Sunday night announced the start of Ramadan.

About 1.9 billion worshippers mark the holy month with fasting and prayers. Some countries, including the Philippines and Morocco, announced the Moon was not visible the previous evening and so fasting would begin on Tuesday.

Hadeer Hegazy, 19, lives in Al Ain and shared her excitement with The National.

This is a month of peace and I believe peace is profound and important in Islam
Mohammed Jahirul Islam

“This Ramadan is so special to me because my family and I will be spending it with a relative coming to visit from Egypt," said the cyber security student from Egypt.

Ms Hegazy’s goal this year is to complete reading the Quran at least once.

“I always look forward to the spiritual and positive vibes with my family and friends gathering," she said.

“Early morning my family and I prepare a pre-dawn suhoor meal of traditional Egyptian food like fava beans and make sure to eat yoghurt to control our thirst throughout the day."

With Ms Hegazy attending classes during Ramadan, she is relieved that study hours are shortened.

“I’m glad my university shortened class timings so [that] we will finish early and get to go home, rest and prepare for iftar," she added.

Ramadan is believed to be the month the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

Fasting during the holy month is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all Muslims who are in good health.

Mohammed Jahirul Islam, 50 and from Bangladesh, is looking forward to Ramadan as it represents peace and solitude.

“This is a month of peace and I believe peace is profound and important in Islam," Mr Islam said.

“I always pray the first prayer of the day at the mosque and I will make sure to pray all the other prayers at the mosque, too.

“I prepared for Ramadan by taking care of myself physically and buying new clothes."

Mahmoud Khalifa, 21, is an industrial engineer who enjoys attending Fajr prayer with his family at the mosque as it also gives him “a sense of peace".

“Being in the company of fellow worshippers strengthens my connection to my faith and I discover my inner peace through participating in group prayers," Mr Khalifa told The National.

“I also like to go pray the sunnah [optional] and extra prayers, so I can get used to it," he said.

“My goal this Ramadan is to give to charity, read the Quran daily, go to the taraweeh, spend time with my family and commit to not miss any of the five prayers."

Mr Khalifa follows a certain timetable during Ramadan to help through fasting and plans to have suhoor by about 4am.

“I like staying in the mosque after each prayer to read the Quran, eat healthy food and stay hydrated in non-fasting hours," he added.

"I also make sure to rest and spend my time doing something useful."

Hatam Alawady, 47, works at Al Ain Hospital and is committed to get closer to God this Ramadan.

“This Ramadan I am focusing and committed to get closer to God and to ask for His forgiveness," he said.

“I want to share my blessings and give back to people. Especially in Ramadan, I like to pray all the prayers in their dedicated timings.

“I arrange my time in Ramadan accordingly with my working hours and make sure to eat light food for suhoor such as cucumber, yoghurt and milk."

Muslims end their daily fast at sunset, before many begin taraweeh prayers, an additional extended evening prayer performed after isha.

Taraweeh are traditionally followed by social gatherings that last into the night.

This year, Muslims in the UAE will begin the month by fasting for about 13 hours and 52 minutes.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed posted a Ramadan message on social media to mark the start of Ramadan.

“May this period of reflection and prayer bring us closer together and strengthen our bonds of unity and compassion. I wish you a blessed Ramadan filled with peace, harmony and spiritual growth," Sheikh Mohamed wrote on X.

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Updated: March 11, 2024, 7:30 AM