The majority of Muslims living and working overseas practice cultural and religious traditions during the Holy Month of Ramadan even more devoutly than they did in their home countries, a newly released Western Union-sponsored study has found.
The Western Union study, “Traditions of Ramadan by global citizens of Muslim faith”, was conducted in July by The Nielsen Company and covered Muslims of 11 nationalities living in 12 countries in the GCC, Asia Pacific, the United States and Western Europe.
According to the survey findings, 65% of the respondents in the GCC stated that their behavior and religious practices during the holy month of Ramadan have changed, predominantly for the better, as compared to their practices back home prior to migrating. The practice of ‘Fasting’ has been impacted the most according to 84% of respondents followed by ‘Praying’ (77%) and ‘Charitable giving’ (75%). Furthermore, ‘Access to religious facilities’, ‘Influence of loved ones’ and ‘Work commitments’ were cited as the three main drivers for these changes, according to 60%, 49% and 43% of the respondents respectively.
“Living in another country often brings different cultural influences along with new work and personal pressures. Global citizens of Muslim faith are upholding Islamic traditions and are even more devout during the Holy Month of Ramadan,” Sobia Rahman (pictured), Western Union’s Regional Vice President for Gulf, Pakistan & Afghanistan said.
“Western Union has been moving money for better, for more than 135 years. We know people move away from their home countries for many reasons, but a common factor is creating a better life for their families and loved ones through work opportunities,” Rahman added.
“It is difficult for people of any faith or nationality to be away from home during traditional cultural and religious events and holidays. Ramadan working hours in the GCC are shorter which gives people more time to reflect and spend time with their families and loved ones. It is not surprising to see that family, loved ones and friends, along with commitment to work, are even more influential when people live overseas.”
In the GCC, Muslims from other countries were found to be more devoted to upholding a variety of traditions than migrants living in other regions, with one in two surveyed (54%) saying they fasted more and engaged in more sharing and giving (44%), compared with when they were in their home countries. Globally, Arab Muslims, regardless of where they had emigrated to, also tended to engage in more Ramadan activities other than fasting and praying – such as reading the Qur’an, socializing with family and friends and the ritual of umrah – compared with Non-Arab Muslims.
Rahman added, “Another key insight from the study was that nearly three out of four respondents (74%) in the GCC said that they paid zakat during Ramadan. Despite fulfilling their duty of zakat during Ramadan, a vast majority of the respondents continue sharing and giving to the less fortunate and those in need which is an important aspect of Ramadan for every Muslim. 53% of the respondents said that they preferred to ‘Donate to charity’ whether locally, back home or overseas, with a majority of them (94%) preferring to give ‘Cash’ donations.”
Key highlights of the study
“Cash is very versatile and convenient to give, either locally or when helping people abroad, which explains its popularity,” Rahman said. “However, the important finding is that the vast majority of Muslims continue to help meet real needs, both in their home and adoptive communities, by fulfilling their duty of zakat.”
The findings of the study were based on a survey of nearly 550 Muslims emigrants originally from the Middle Eastern and North African countries of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia and the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They resided in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia in the GCC; Malaysia and Singapore in Asia; the United Kingdom, Germany and France in Europe; and the United States.
This study was conducted in conjunction with Western Union’s mega regional consumer promotion in Qatar, UAE and Kuwait to reward customers for sending money through Western Union. One lucky customer in Qatar will win QAR 100,000 while another will have a chance at winning QAR 50,000 and two others a shot at winning QAR 25,000 each. An additional 49 customers will have their transaction amount (up to USD 2000) doubled. The promotion commenced on July 1st and will run through to August 18th and customers only need to transact during this period to automatically enter the raffle draw.
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