Visiting Zanzibar In Ramadhan : Everything to know about Zanzibar Ramadhan Season: Tanzania’s oasis of calm and relaxation is Zanzibar Island. Yet, Zanzibar is the place to go to decompress. While the mainland offers tourists a wildlife safari activities, mountain climbing, downtown eateries, and dancing, Zanzibar offer them a cool and relaxing experience with water sports activities. UNESCO has designated Stone Town, a charming ancient town, as a World Heritage Site. You are transported to another era by the traditional Swahili architecture, Taarab music, and mouthwatering spicy food. Warm ocean air and salty tide pools at the beaches entice you to visit them after a hot day.
95 percent of the 1.3 million residents of Zanzibar are Muslims, so you will undoubtedly hear the call to prayer at various times during the day if you visit this oasis. During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, some travelers avoid Zanzibar out of concern that the island oasis won’t quite live up to its reputation.
RAMADAN IN ZANZIBAR: A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Most religions have some sort of practice of fasting, whether it be giving up certain meals or things sometimes (like during Pesach in Judaism or the Lenten season in some versions of Christianity), always (like pork in Islam and Judaism or beef in Hinduism), or completely for a period of time (fasting). (As far as I am aware, no religion consistently forbids all eating.)
Frequently, while summarizing Islam, people list its five pillars as follows: 1. making a public statement of faith; 2. praying; 3. fasting; 4. giving; and 5. traveling to Mecca Thus, one of the top five aspects of being a Muslim is fasting.
Also, devout Muslims abstain from drinking alcohol and eating pork or other foods that are considered haram, or forbidden. More than the prohibition on alcohol, the restriction on pork is taken seriously almost everywhere.
One lunar month is allotted to Ramadan (Islam uses a lunar calendar). It normally lasts for 30 days. Muslims normally refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset, though local traditions and geography can change the regulations. So, it is true that Muslims review weather reports and are up to date on sunrise and sunset hours. Muslims typically eat in their houses well before morning and gather as a community to eat after sundown. Yet Ramadan isn’t simply about eating and drinking. In reality, Ramadan involves more than just a physical fast,Visiting Zanzibar In Ramadhan
Fasting necessitates a shift in mindset, just like it does in most religions and traditions. If you live in a region where males don’t often cover up as much, like the tropics, people dress more modestly, which entails covering up more.
During Ramadan, devout Muslims will typically act modestly and generously toward outsiders, such as by giving out dates and water after dusk. On Zanzibar, you’ll witness Muslims giving dates and bottles to total strangers.
In general, Muslims are required to pray five times a day. It is one of Islam’s “pillars,” along with fasting, as was previously stated. Many Muslims, who occasionally skip prayers, take their devotion to God more seriously throughout Ramadan.
In Islam, prayer is essentially required, but Ramadan makes it much more so. Especially the early morning, midday, and late-night prayers. Mosques in Zanzibar are likely to be busier during Ramadan.
Last but not least, the celebration that marks the conclusion of Ramadan is called “Eid,” which simply translates to “festival” in Arabic. Even if you were considering staying away from Zanzibar during Ramadan, Eid is a particularly wonderful time to go. Food is available everywhere, including at dessert stands, street fairs, and other events.
HOW CAN YOU ENJOY YOUR VACATION IN ZANZIBAR DURING THE RAMADHAN SEASON? Nothing could be further from the truth, and below are a few tips to help you enjoy your stay in Zanzibar during Ramadan.
Be considerate of those who are fasting.
Muslims are forbidden from eating or drinking during Ramadan from sunrise until sunset, including water. Although Zanzibaris are aware that visitors might not be fasting, it is nevertheless advisable to show respect for those who are by refraining from eating or drinking in public. Drink your water in regions with few people, or inside if possible, by carrying it with you in a closed bag, Visiting Zanzibar In Ramadhan
Look up and off the main roads for good food and drink during the day in Stone Town.
Because the owners are fasting themselves or out of respect for those fasting, many eateries on the main highways remain closed until dusk throughout Ramadan. But do not worry; if you know where to search, you can still discover some of Stone Town’s tastiest delicacies even if you are not participating in the fast. Look for eateries that are high on structure, such as Emerson Spice, Taperia, Lemongrass, Silk Route, and Monsoon; these are open all day and serve delectable food. Search for cafés like Zanzibar Coffee House in the twisting alleyways and in the back, behind the main roads.
Enjoy the breaking of the fast in the evenings.
After sundown, when individuals who are fasting are permitted to resume eating, restaurants reopen. In the evening, indulge in all the gastronomic treats Stone Town has to offer. To sample what the majority of Muslims in Zanzibar consume after a day of fasting, think about attending an “Iftar” dinner.
Dress modestly and respect the culture by covering up.
Zanzibar is a generally conservative location all year long, so it is advisable to respect local customs by dressing modestly, but Ramadan is a time when this is especially crucial. Women should dress modestly by donning knee-length skirts, shoulder-covering blouses, or scarves over their shoulders. Long shorts that reach the knees or trousers are the greatest clothing options for men. By choosing to alter your clothing to fit in, you show people that you are willing to go above and beyond to respect their way of life.
Support local businesses.
Families put money aside during Ramadan for “Sikukuu,” the celebration that takes place at the conclusion of the fasting month. Similar to the great religious holidays of other faiths, a feast of delectable food is prepared, gifts are distributed, and children receive new attire. So that people may save for this wonderful occasion, encourage local businesses by purchasing souvenirs, taking excursions, and dining at neighborhood eateries, Visiting Zanzibar In Ramadhan
Tour the island and see all the sights.
Ramadan doesn’t change the availability of tours; if anything, it might increase. You can go to Prison Island, a spice plantation, swim with dolphins, go diving or snorkeling, and see Stone Town’s historical attractions. Take advantage of Zanzibar’s amenities and admire the island’s splendor.
Go to the beach.
There will be a few more changes to your sightseeing itinerary while in Stone Town than at other times of the year, but there won’t be as many while relaxing on the beach at nearby resorts. It is not required to wear modest clothing at resorts, and when you are sipping a cold beverage close to the salty ocean, you won’t even realize that it is Ramadan. Resorts also serve food and beverages all day long.
Greet people with Ramadan greetings.
While you are in Zanzibar during Ramadan, saying “Ramadan Kareem” to folks will go a long way. This recognition of their holy month and their fast will be well received and valued. Imagine if you were fasting for more than 12 hours every day; a little respect for the effort would be greatly appreciated.
Stay for “Sikukuu.”
A sizable party follows a month-long fast! If you can plan your schedule to coincide with “Sikukuu,” you’ll be able to take part in Stone Town’s celebrations. With everyone in Forodhani Gardens dressed to the nines and prepared for a feast, it is a sight to behold!
People naturally move a little more slowly when they’ve been fasting for the majority of the day. Zanzibar is often hot, so going an entire day without food or water is no easy feat. Be understanding of customer service that is less enthusiastic and responds more slowly. It’s not that people don’t care about you or are uninterested in you; it’s just difficult to stay energized in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius at the tenth hour of a daily fast.
ZANZIBAR RAMADAN ETIQUETTE
Don’t Eat, Drink, or Smoke in Public during the Day
Throughout Ramadan, refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public. Even though eating in public is not illegal given how many people are fasting, it is frowned upon, Visiting Zanzibar In Ramadhan
Restaurants during Ramadan on Zanzibar
On Zanzibar, some restaurants run by Muslims are entirely closed during Ramadan, while others respect the daytime fasting period by closing their patios and terraces to serve food and beverages. (The restaurant Monsoon, for instance, only serves food inside.) Several establishments don’t serve alcohol generally throughout Ramadan and are merely closed during the day. Among them are
- Passing Show Restaurant,
- Clove Garden,
- Dolphin Restaurant,
- Archipelago Café and Restaurant
In Stone Town, many eateries are closed during the day (not all, but for sure restaurants run by Muslim owners, while most resorts on the beach are excluded). On the beach in Zanzibar during Ramadan, you probably won’t see any differences. Alcoholic beverages and meals will be available in exclusive hotels and resorts. Yet if you leave the grounds of the hotel, you will be reminded to observe good Ramadan behavior.
Don’t worry; there are still many restaurants in Stone Town that are open. Go wander the town, and you will find a nice place to eat. There are several restaurants in Zanzibar that continue to operate normally during Ramadan, including the Indian vegan restaurant Radha House, Stone Town Café, Livingstone Café, Traveler’s Café, and Mercury’s.
Forodhani Gardens is also calm during the day, but after sundown, business picks up at this popular food market as food starts to be prepared for sale.
On Zanzibar, a modest dress rule should be enforced year-round, not just during Ramadan. Ladies should wear at least knee-high skirts or long pants and cover their shoulders with a scarf or 3/4-sleeved blouse. Guys should also wear long pants. Female travelers shouldn’t be expected to cover their heads.
Don’t Kiss and Publicly Display Affection
It is advisable to avoid making overt displays of affection in public in Zanzibar, whether it is Ramadan or not. Nothing else, unless you’re in a more private or isolated location, should be done while holding hands.
Have a Sikukuu Dinner
Sikukuu, which translates to “Eid dinner,” is Swahili. Eid al-Fitr is a celebration marking the end of the fast. On the third day of Eid, Ramadan comes to a conclusion. People spend their time with one another throughout this season by gathering for large meals with friends and relatives. If you receive an invitation to the Sikukuu Dinner, please accept it and arrive bearing a token of appreciation, such as some fruits or confections. If you’re just a regular visitor in Zanzibar and don’t have any local acquaintances, head to the hotel for Eid al-Fitr dinner. Hotels in Zanzibar are currently offering celebratory feasts. Without giving it a try, it would be a major culinary oversight.
There Are Some Other Things to Keep in Mind While Visiting Zanzibar Regardless of Ramadan
- Topless sunbathing is not allowed!
- Homosexuality in Zanzibar is illegal.
- Like anywhere else on the globe, snapping pictures of locals without their permission is not only impolite and disrespectful; always ask first—some locals may even demand payment.
- Without first getting permission from someone in authority, never enter mosques on your own. Non-Muslims are often prohibited from entering mosques,Visiting Zanzibar In Ramadhan
- Several hotels, typically managed by Muslims, do not sell alcohol or permit its consumption on the premises. They also do not serve it. If you’re staying at a hotel that doesn’t provide alcohol, respect that! For resorts catering to tourists, this rarely applies. The Zenji Hotel, Tembo House, and Dhow Palace Hotel are hotels in Stone Town that do not serve alcohol.
Conclusion: The tranquility of Ramadan is the ideal time to travel to Tanzania’s Zanzibar, which is truly an oasis. It will be all you anticipated, perhaps even a little bit more, if you make a few changes to your typical travel strategy.