Image 1 of 10: Syria sets its stalls out to get through another Ramadan in (one) peace: A man pours a traditional drink in central Damascus on July 9, 2013 as Syrians shop in preparation for the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
Image 1 of 10: Tripoli, Lebanon: The drums of Ramadan could double as the drums of war if today's explosion is any indicator. Sufi men parade, playing religious music, in traditional attire during a march prior to the start of Ramadan in the streets of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. July, 8, 2013. (AFP PHOTO / IBRAHIM CHALHOUB)
Image 1 of 10: Holy heartland: A Palestinian man and Sheikh walk in front of parasols placed outside the Dome of the Rock, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third most holy site, in the old city of Jerusalem. July 7, 2013 (AFP PHOTO /AHMAD GHARABLI)
Image 1 of 10: A ray of hope: A Palestinian child admires a traditional Ramadan lantern in a street market in Gaza City. July 6, 2013 (AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED)
Image 1 of 10: All the frills that holy prayers can buy! A Palestinian woman buys traditional Ramadan decorations for her home in a street market in Gaza City. July 6, 2013 (AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)
Image 1 of 10: Stocking up for the hungry dusks: Iraqi women shop for food items in preparation for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan at a market in Baghdad. July 9, 2013 (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
Image 1 of 10: A delectable array of Iftar options: A local supermarket in Baghdad selling traditional Iraqi food items. July 9, 2013 (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
Image 1 of 10: Food for thought for Yemen: A woman shops for food for Iftar at a local market in the Old City of Sanaa. July 4, 2013 (AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED HUWAIS)
Image 1 of 10: The Saudi capital ushers in the holy month with a holy amount of dates. Traditionally the sweet dried fruit constitutes the first bite taken to break the fast. The native fruit of Saudi Arabia gets distributed around the region (Image courtesy of Alriyadh)
Image 1 of 10: A frenzied Ramadan? Egypt once saw in the holy month with this alternative breed of dancers - the whirling dervishes or 'Mawaweel' . This year might be an equally dizzy or disorienting Ramadan for the masses who have just deposed their second leader in less than 3 years. (courtesy of Facebook)
Welcome to Ramadan 2013; the month of fasting, feeding, forgiveness and all round charitable fervor; the time when Muslims up their praying and curb their partying. The dawn to dusk fast includes not drinking fluids, which this year entails no daytime water intake during the peak summer month of July.
Nothing fundamental changes about the nature of the Holy Month year in year out. Yet since 2011, the so-called Arab Spring has undoubtedly toned down the revelry and gaiety surrounding the fast. It’s all the region can do to just keep fasting and carry on.
The charms of Ramadan's under-indulgence
Nevertheless, while all is less than swell in the Muslim heartland of the Middle East, and notwithstanding the revolutions, the bombings, the bloodshed and tears, Ramadan can still be expected to cultivate a calming effect for those who follow it. There's a certain appeal to a month of abstaining from overeating, swearing, gossiping and excess. It is about getting spiritual and being pure of heart and mind. It can be a time where one slows things down, (not so fast!) to reflect on their choices and reconsider their ways.
The fasting faithful often report feeling a sense of calm and composure that carries them through the tricky month that can pose its challenges, particularly in the summer heat.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
"Whoever observes fast during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven."
This year promises to see some of the region's turmoil and trauma diverted into the blessed month, but whether it will accelerate ceasefires (as per Ban ki-Moon wish) or spur more aggression, our prayers hold that it won’t escalate into a month of real hunger, struggles and war, particularly given the region's refugee crisis.
Albawaba wishes you a Ramadan Karim.