A BAN on all alcohol sales in Bahrain's hotels and restaurants will be imposed for the fourth year running this Ramadan, tourism officials said yesterday.
Hotels had for years been allowed to serve alcohol after sunset during Ramadan, but a total ban was introduced in 2005. Live entertainment is also banned during Ramadan.
Drinking, eating and smoking in public is prohibited between sunrise and sunset, said an Interior Ministry spokeswoman. She said those violating the law would be arrested and referred to the Public Prosecution.
Based on astronomical calculations Ramadan is expected to take place from September 1 to September 30, said Bahrain Astronomical Society vice-president Professor Dr Waheeb Alnaser.
Ramadan is a Holy month for Muslims that occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and when the Holy Quran was believed to have been revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Ramadan is held 11 days or so earlier each year.
During Ramadan Muslims are required to fast from sunset to sunrise and abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations.
A devout Muslim should refrain from telling lies, backbiting and committing sinful acts while fasting. Muslims believe that if a person commits a sinful act while fasting, God will not reward him.
"The point is to control yourself, it's a moral and spiritual training programme,"
Ahmad Al Fateh Mosque (Grand Mosque) senior co-ordinator for the tourist visitors programme Farahat Al Kindy told the GDN.
"We are commanded by God to fast to show obedience to God and he is merciful that we can eat and drink at night. Fasting is also prescribed for the Christians and Jews.
"It's a chance to purify yourself and for God to forgive all your past mistakes. It's a chance to get rid of bad habits like smoking. Also it's a chance to pray and empathise with the poor and it leads to people being charitable."
Mr Al Kindy said Ramadan was a month of blessings and Muslims showed thanks to God by being charitable and giving food, clothes and money to the poor.
During this time Muslims were encouraged to forgive those that had offended them and clear up grievances. "We find Ramadan creates a spirit of brotherhood and unity among Muslims," he said. "It creates an atmosphere of peace and everyone is trying to be kind to everyone."
Mr Al Kindy said fasting helped to purify the body and eliminate toxins because it gave it a rest from food. He said those fasting should try to stay out of the sun and away from situations where they may be tempted to break their fast.
When they break their fast they should begin with dates and water, followed by a light meal, rather than eating several big meals in one sitting.
Mr Al Kindy said it was unfortunate that some Muslims used Ramadan as an opportunity to sleep all day and eat all night. However, he said this was not considered fasting and would not bring any benefits. "This is spoiling the meaning of Ramadan, no-one will benefit. "It's a shame because during Ramadan you should be more active and have less sleep. They should spend the night in worship, do their job in the day and fulfil their responsibilities and then go and have a rest just before they break their fast."
Mr Al Kindy said a Muslim was required to pray five times a day but in Ramadan they were encouraged to add an optional prayer after the ishaa (nightfall) prayer.
Many people choose to follow this optional prayer with a reading of the Quran and aim to complete the entire book by the end of the Holy Month. During the last 10 days of Ramadan Muslims wait for the night of Lailat Al Qadir, also known as the night of power.
They believe that prayers on that night will be answered and God will forgive the sins of those that repent. "We believe if we worship on this night of power which will occur on an specific day during the last 10 days of Ramadan then you will be rewarded like if you had worship for 1,000 months, which is the equivalent of 83 years," said Mr Al Kindy.
"This is because in the days of Noah and Adam people lived 1,000 years and had more years for worship, but now our life span may only be 50 to 60 years. So because our life span is going down, God compensates us on this night, so we should make an extra effort. And if you go for Omrah (pilgrimage) during Ramadan it's like you are performing the pilgrimage with Prophet Mohammed."
Mr Al Kindy said non-Muslims should show sensitivity to Muslims during Ramadan by eating, drinking and smoking in private.
It is also preferable that women dress appropriately. "If men see women in Ramadan they may be tempted to look at her and if he does he breaks his fast, so they should wear long sleeved clothes," he said.
"If invited for iftar I encourage non-Muslims to go, we welcome them to join us. I also recommended non-Muslims to try fasting, even for a few days."
The Grand Mosque will be open for visitors free of charge during Ramadan between 8.30am and 2pm. For more information contact 17727773.