Iftar and Suhoor: The Month of Peace
Written by Lord Brown
Iftar and Suhoor are a chance for family and friends to come together during the holy month of Ramadan.
In the days leading up to Ramadan, tents begin to appear on familiar roadsides in the city, with simple signs marked: Break Fast. It is not ‘breakfast’ in the Western sense, a morning meal, but an invitation for those observing Ramadan to pull over to break the day’s fast at the sunset Iftar.
Ramadan is a month of introspection, spiritual reflection, and fasting, and a time when people come together for the evening Iftar, and pre-dawn Suhoor. During Ramadan, the traditional three meals a day simply become two.
For Muslims, it is one of the five pillars of Islam to observe Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and it is believed it marks the time that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). This year, Ramadan will fall approximately between June 18 and July 18. The exact timings are determined by the moon and are yet to be announced.
Between the hours of sunrise and sunset, practising Muslims will abstain from all food, drink, tobacco, and intimacy. All residents and visitors are expected to act respectfully whether they are observing the fast or not, with no eating or drinking in public, no loud music, and people must dress and behave modestly. It is also polite to greet people with “Ramadan Kareem”.
After the day’s fast when the sun goes down, Doha comes to life, and the cafés and restaurants open late into the night. It is the perfect chance for visitors to Qatar to enjoy exploring places like Souq Waqif during the cooler night hours and to experience local cuisine at this special time of the year. It’s traditional to break the fast with dates at Iftar. In supermarkets and souqs you will see special displays of succulent dates and dried fruits, which make wonderful gifts for friends at home. Iftar and Suhoor need to sustain people throughout the fast, so a healthy mix of fruit, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates is important, as is hydrating with plenty of delicious fresh juices.
A visit to one of the lavish Ramadan tents or Iftar banquets at Doha’s hotels and restaurants is the perfect time to try traditional food such as harees or jareesh. These wheat dishes are Ramadan staples: harees is boiled or cracked wheat, mixed with meat and spices like cinnamon or cardamom; jareesh is crushed wheat, cooked in a nutritious lamb stock. The dishes have a porridge-like consistency and are filling yet gentle on the digestion after a day’s fasting. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss the chance to try luqaimat, the crunchy sweet dumplings which are a popular Ramadan pudding.
In Qatar, in mid-July, the Moon Sighting Committee will call on Muslims to watch for the Shawwal crescent moon which signals the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid Al Fitr, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. Families and friends will come together to celebrate, and life returns to its normal pace for another year.
Iftar and Suhoor favourites
You can experience Iftar and Suhoor at many of Doha’s exclusive hotels and restaurants. Iftar is served from sunset, around 6pm, and Suhoor is often served until 2am. Favourites include the lavish Arabic menu at W Doha Hotel with shisha and regional music (whoteldoha.com) and the atmospheric boutique hotels in Souq Waqif (swbh.com).