“Not even water? »Some things to say and not to say to your Muslim colleagues and friends during the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar and is considered to be the period during which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. During this month, Muslims fast and give alms. From sunrise to sunset, they refrain from eating, drinking and stepping away from anything that would distract them from their faith and focus on their spirituality.
It’s also the month when the non-Muslims around me pay extra attention (a little too much) to the way they behave with me, and when I realize that all my social interactions encourage eating and drinking. Joining your friends for lunch or dinner becomes almost impossible, and you forget about coffee breaks.
Many believe that abstaining from eating and drinking is considered the most important aspect of Ramadan, and it goes much further than that. Ramadan can be seen as a renewal, a way to become a better person for the rest of the year. We increase our charitable acts, we spend more time with our family and our community, and we avoid lies. It’s also an opportunity to reflect deeply on yourself, and personally, I see it as an opportunity to create good new habits for myself for the rest of my year.
If I had to remember one thing from these years of fasting, it is that non-Muslims (or rather people who are not surrounded by Muslims), have no idea how to behave with me. during ramadan. They know that it exists and that I don’t eat, but the rest is very confusing to them. Here are some useful points in order to know how to behave with your Muslim entourage during Ramadan.
Don’t ask a Muslim person why they are not fasting
There are many reasons that practicing Muslims do not or cannot fast. Illness, pregnancy, age, menstruation … aspects far too personal to tell anyone. Asking someone why they are not fasting may make them uncomfortable. But above all, it’s none of your business. One of the most beautiful things about fasting is that it is, in fact, a deeply personal act. Also, just because a person only focuses on certain aspects, such as self-reflection and prayer, does not mean that he becomes less legitimate. Just because you don’t fast doesn’t mean you don’t participate.
Don’t feel uncomfortable eating
It’s okay not to want to gobble up your meal in front of your friend who is not going to eat for fifteen hours, but you don’t have to apologize for that – it’s pretty boring. We know exactly what we’re getting into when we fast. We know what that implies. This is why many of us get up an hour or more before sunrise to eat to last the rest of the day. A big part of fasting is knowing that the world doesn’t stop turning for you. We do not expect any specific treatment, we still go to work and we continue to live our lives normally. Ramadan isn’t meant to be easy; That’s the point.
If you’re not sure how to approach a fasting Muslim, there are plenty of other ways you can be warm with someone without offering them food. One summer my best friend put a wet towel in the freezer to cool me off instead of offering me a glass of water. It was one of the nicest and most caring things anyone had done for me.
Pay attention to the questions you ask
Every year, non-Muslims ask me (or rather exclaim): “Not even water? “. The question itself is so widespread that it has become a joke for Muslims. It might sound disheartening, I know, it’s kind of like telling you not to ask questions on the subject, but put yourself in our shoes. Imagine being surrounded by non-fasting people every day who ask you the same questions over and over again. It gets heavy. If you want to have a meaningful conversation about Ramadan and its beliefs, it seems normal to me that you do a minimum of research on the subject.
Very often people use what they know about Muslims and Islam to explain to me what Ramadan is. A former colleague once said to me, “I’m pretty sure you can’t eat because the sun hasn’t quite set yet. However, this is not the case, because our bedtime prayer, and therefore the end of the fast, takes place before the sun has completely set. Just because you’re taking an anthropology class at uni ’doesn’t mean you can afford to teach someone about their religion and customs. Don’t worry, we know what we’re saying.
Take the opportunity to learn more about Islam
Personally, I love talking to people about Ramadan and giving them the opportunity to learn more about something very important to me – especially given the way Islam can be represented. Many people in our community like to invite non-Muslims to the festivities during Ramadan and to break the fast at “Ftor”. Although fasting is based on faith, it is also an exercise in self-control. That’s why I encourage non-Muslims to join me and fast, even for a day, to see what it feels like.