by AdminSoa
January 14, 2012

The holy month of Ramadan is the most important of the year to Muslims, who make up the majority of Zanzibar's population. The timing of Ramadan varies as it follows the lunar year, which differs from Western calendar years, but this year it happens to fall during 28th of June and ends on 28th of July 2014.

Ramadan dates

·       28 June – 27 July 2014
·       18 June – 16 July 2015
·       6 June – 5 July 2016

Ramadan Etiquette on Zanzibar

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, commemorates the revelation of the Quran by Allah to the Prophet Mohammed, and is celebrated by Muslims all over the world who, from sunrise to sunset for 30 days straight, refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, arguing, cursing, and sexual activity.
Don’t eat or drink in public during the day during Ramadan. It’s not against the law to eat in public, but it is considered polite, while so many people are fasting, to eat lunch privately or at a hotel where restaurants will remain open for foreign guests. Same applies for smoking in public!
Many of the restaurants close during the day (not all, but for sure restaurants run by Muslim owners, resorts re excluded of course).  Ask around which restaurants are open; those who are open will serve the meals inside the restaurant only. Don’t get scared, there are plenty of restaurants open, just go around the town and you will find a nice place to eat. One of the restaurants that is open is Radha House, a good vegetarian indian restaurant and is our favorite place to eat.
Try to attend an 'iftari' dinner. Once the sun goes down, fasting Zanzibaris can eat and often put on special feasts for family and friends.  Get ready for a explosion of Swahili flavours, such as 'tambi' noodles - calorific Chinese noodles cooked with coconut milk, sugar and cardamom pods.
If you are going on the beach, don’t worry. Within resorts and hotels you will enjoy as usual, but you will be warned if you leave the resort to respect the Ramadan etiquette.
Also try to cover up as much as possible, especially in town - this is even more important during this month than it is during the rest of the year. For women means covering shoulders and wear at least knee high or longer skirts
Stay for Siku Kuu. Eid means a 4 day celebration that concludes the ramdan in Zanzibar, with everyone dressed in their best clothes and great feasts cooked. It is a vibrant, exciting time to be around.
Forodhani Gardens on the first evening of Eid is a site to visit, with families promenading in their finery and a general air of happiness at the conclusion of this special month. During the time of Ramadan Forodhani Gardens operates after sunset.

Other Important Behavioural Things to Note

No mater Ramadan, there are also some rules that has to be respected while visiting Zanzibar.
Public displays of affection should be kept to a minimum, holding hands is fine, but nothing much more unless you are somewhere more private or secluded.
Topless sunbathing is not allowed!
Homosexuality on Zanzibar is illegal.
Taking photographs of strangers without prior permission like everywhere in the world is not only rude and shows disrespect -  ASK before taking photos of people - some locals may ask for payment.
Don’t enter mosques without prior permission. Make sure you meet a person in charge in the mosque, many mosques do not allow non muslims to enter.
Some hotels usually run by muslims will not allow alcohol consumption on the property as well it will not be served.Respect this if you are staying in a hotel that not allows alcohol!

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