by Muhammad Ramadan, MuslimGirl.com
Ramadan, one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar, officially began on March 23, kicking off a month of community, reflection, and prayer. For the entire month, Muslim adults fast—or abstain from all food and drink—between dawn and sunset. Here, the folks at MuslimGirl.com share some tips for non-Muslims looking to support friends and loved ones observing the holiday.
The thought counts
For starters, you can say “Ramadan Kareem!” or a simple “Happy Ramadan” to help us get the month started. In fact, we appreciate the thought and gesture more than you know.
Muslims aren’t a monolith
Just like non-Muslims, all Muslims have their own, individual relationship to religion and spirituality. Some are trying their hardest to complete just one day of fasting; others are going all in. And there are all sorts of levels of participation in between. Many Muslims may not even be fasting. (Some have medical exemptions; others have their own reasons). If you notice that your Muslim friend isn’t fasting, don’t feel the need to ask them why. It’s absolutely personal, and their own business. Feel free to ask if they’re observing Ramadan—but if they say no, just leave it at that.
“Not even water?”
During Ramadan, fasting means no food, drinks, smoking, or any sexual intimacy from sun up until sun down. So, yes, that means water too! Every Muslim hears “Not even water?” about 100 times every Ramadan. We’re used to the question, but consider it answered here!
Do your thing
We don’t mind if you eat or drink in front of us—but we appreciate that you asked. We really do. But it doesn’t bother us! We’re used to it, and overcoming this sort of temptation is part of the practice of fasting. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should wave food in our faces. But please, feel free to eat as you normally would. We aren’t offended at all.
Keep it positive
We Muslims love engaging non-Muslims in conversation during and about Ramadan, but please keep it positive. We already know fasting is difficult—that’s the point! Instead of saying, “Damn, that sucks,” a better response might be “More power to you!” It’d help us feel much more supported. Remember, we choose to do this every year for 30 days. It’s not forced upon us. Is it tough to abstain? Sure! But it doesn’t suck. It’s empowering.
Cut us some slack
The last 10 days of Ramadan are considered some of the holiest days of the year for Muslims. If your employee asks for some time off or your coworker needs to start work a little late near the end of Ramadan, please try to provide reasonable accommodations. They’ll likely be in a mosque every evening in deep prayer, and reading from the Quran.
It’s coffee o’clock…
We may be fasting all day, but we still need our caffeine fix! When the sun goes down and we’ve filled ourselves with food, you may see us at your local coffee shop grabbing a latte before heading to the mosque for our nightly lectures and prayers. A coffee date with a friend could be the ideal hang during Ramadan. Don’t forget the donuts!
…and time for food pics!
Lastly, prepare yourself for an overload of post-sunset food pics on social media during Ramadan, ranging from five-course feasts to delectable sweets. If you play your cards right, we might show up at your door with samples or leftovers to share—or an invitation to the next dinner extravaganza. We love nothing more than sharing our love of food with our friends.