Ramadan is the month whose beginning is mercy,
whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from fire.” ~ Prophet Mohammad
Once a year, Muslims across the world celebrate Ramadan to commemorate the month in which the Qur’an, Islam’s sacred book, was reveled to Prophet Mohammed. Over these 29-30 days, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk and are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an as well as to avoid sinful behaviours such as fighting and gossiping. This tradition was introduced in the Muslim world in the second year of Hijra in 624 CE and is still widely observed across the world.
Fasting (Sawm) during the month of Ramadan is particularly important because it complies with one of the five pillars of Islam, namely mandatory acts that all Muslim believers must observe, among which practicing Salat – five daily prayers – and Zakāt, charitable giving. As it follows the Muslim calendar, Ramadan begins about 11 days earlier every year, the first day depending on the sighting of the crescent moon (Hilal). For all Muslims, Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection, a period of the year in which they challenge their daily routine to be closer to human sufferings and celebrate God. Elders, children, pregnant and menstruating women and people who are sick or are travelling are exempted from fasting, but everybody gathers on the last day to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, one of Islam’s most important festivity.
Islam in Indonesia
With almost 90% of its 250 million citizens practicing Islam, Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. Islam reached Indonesia before the 14th century and soon became the dominating religion in the country. More than 20 kingdoms based on the teachings of Islam were established by the 15th century and today Muslims are represented in Parliament by political parties preaching a moderate and tolerant interpretation of Islam. Islam is the main religion practiced in Java and Sumatra, as well as in Sulawesi and Lombok. Islam is also the main religion practiced in the Gili Islands.
What to expect?
If you are spending the month of Ramadan in Lombok and the Gili Islands, you will notice a slower rhythm of activities and some local restaurants closed during the day, but most tourist-related activities are not affected. Sure, party-goers will need to migrate, as no parties are allowed for the whole month, but for other matters, Do Not worry! Boats respect the same timetable, so do dive shops and yoga or other activities centres. You can easily find food at some major restaurants in Lombok’s most touristic areas and a bit everywhere in the Gili islands, where most restaurants keep serving food all day long, though many close for sunset to allow Muslim employees to break the fasting (buka puasa).