Today • • 19 May

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Ramadhan in Dili, Timor Leste

We’re welcoming Ramadhan and with approximately 1.9 billion Muslims around the world, it’s no surprise that Ramadhan is a global experience that is celebrated differently in each part of the globe. In our special Ramadhan Around the World series, we share the Ramadhan experiences of Muslims worldwide and hear how the blessed month is celebrated in their countries. 

Have you heard of Dili, Timor Leste

If you have not, you’ll be surprised to know that there are Muslims currently residing there, though the percentage is not much! 

Mr Syed Abdul Rahman shares how there is a small community of Muslims in Dili – only 0.3% of the 1.4 million population. 

Despite its Catholic-majority population, East Timor is secular and Muslims live in peace and harmony with society. 

Mr Syed Abdul Rahman Bin Ahmad is a Singaporean currently working as an Operations Manager for Air Timor in Dili, Timor Leste. Here he shares his Ramadhan experience in Dili.

“Ramadhan is quiet here as compared to back home in Singapore. For Muslims here, it’s like normal daily life during Ramadhan as the main population are Catholics.

During Ramadhan, it’s usual for me as I carry out my daily work, have Iftar with family and friends and perform taraweeh together at the mosque.”

Mr Syed Abdul Rahman shared how his usual go-to Iftar and Sahoor food are Mie Ayam or Nasi Ayam Lalapan! 

When we asked him about the mosques in Dili, this was what he shared:

“There are two mosques in Dili City; An-Nur is the main mosque (and Dili’s largest mosque) while Al-Munawarrah is the smaller mosque. There is no rush to find space for taraweeh and the pace is very relaxing. 

However for the taraweeh prayers, most of the congregants come with their families. Children running and playing around the mosque is a common sight while in Singapore, it might not usually be tolerated. Here, it’s like an old kampung atmosphere.”

An Nur was constructed in the 1950s during the Portuguese colonisation of East Timor and was developed during Indonesia’s occupation. 

When asked about Ramadhan Bazaars, Mr Syed shared: “Here in Dili, there is also a small bazaar near An Nur Mosque, selling Indonesian snacks and food dishes. The muslim community is heavily influenced from Indonesia. So it’s not really different, only on a smaller scale.” 

“What I miss most about Ramadhan and Eid back home: Satay and Lontong.”