As a resident of Dubai, I have had the honor of being a guest to many Iftars. It has been a lovely opportunity to learn more about the meaning of Ramadan and experience lovely Iftars with Family and Friends. In Dubai and many countries worldwide, we are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan, and my inbox is full of questions regarding Ramadan Etiquette, especially with questions when attending Iftar!
Suppose you have the pleasure and privilege of being invited to an Iftar; it is kind and considerate of you to make an extra effort to understand some Iftar etiquette before attending. This will help you make a positive impression, feel comfortable, and enjoy the evening.
What is an Iftar?
Iftar is the meal that Muslims have at the end of each day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
Muslims fast from dawn to sunset during Ramadan, and Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast after sunset after prayer.
Iftars are celebrated with a buffet or family-style meal with a wide variety of dishes and beverages. The meal starts slowly with dates, water, and soup and is followed by various decadent dishes.
When attending an Iftar, you can be respectful of the auspicious occasion by following these simple etiquette tips:
- Hostess Gift: If invited to a private Iftar at someone’s home, bring a token of your appreciation to the host. A box of dates or chocolates, fruits, a hamper of home goods, or a baked item are all acceptable host gifts during Ramadan.
- Dress modestly: As with any religious gathering, it is essential to dress modestly and respectfully. This means avoiding revealing or tight-fitting clothing and opting for loose, comfortable, festive, and elegant clothing choices.
- Please arrive on time: The Iftar meal is traditionally broken at sunset, so it is crucial to arrive on time to avoid delaying the meal’s start. If you are running late, it is polite to inform your host so they can make the necessary arrangements.
- Please wash your hands: Before you start eating, it is essential to wash your hands thoroughly. Many Iftar buffets will have a designated area for hand washing, so take advantage of this.
- Start with dates and water: Traditionally, the fast is broken with dates and water. It is essential to follow this tradition, as it helps to rehydrate the body and prepare it for the meal ahead.
- Take small portions: With so many dishes on offer, it can be tempting to pile your plate high. However, it is essential to take small pieces so that everyone can try each word. Although you may be hungry, food waste is considered disrespectful.
- As always, basic manners apply: As with any meal, my top 5 tips are:
- Use your napkin
- Avoid talking with your mouth full
- Finish chewing before you drink
- All personal items off the table
- Be respectful: As with any dining event, have fun but be respectful of others. Refrain from making loud noises, crude jokes, or causing any disturbances. This is a time for reflection and deserves reverence.
- Special Consideration: If your meal is eaten with your hands without utensils, avoid eating with your left hand. The left hand is considered unclean because, in principle, it is used for personal hygiene. Therefore, eating with the right hand is customary as a sign of respect and cleanliness.
An Iftar is a beautiful opportunity to share a meal with family and friends during the month of Ramadan; the food and experience are always a unique and thoughtful treat! By following these simple etiquette tips, you can show respect for your host and other guests and enjoy a memorable and meaningful meal.
I hope you find this guide helpful for you if you ever attend an Iftar. I look forward to receiving and answering any other questions you may have regarding etiquette and cultural consideration in the comments below!