When you have approximately 1.9 billion Muslims in the world (and growing), you are bound to find someone fasting in the holy month of Ramadan. And whether you're a non-muslim or a Muslim, trying to pay your respects politely and civilly is always appreciated because, let's face it, it's always nice to be considerate.
Ramadan is undoubtedly one of the holiest months in Islam, and Muslims worldwide come together and fast from dawn to dusk. Let's skim through some of the best tips to pay your respects in the right way to Muslims who are fasting this year in the name of Allah (SWT).
During the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world will fast from eating and drinking during the day. But that doesn't mean you should starve yourself in front of us. It's always appreciated if you let a fellow Muslim know beforehand if you're planning to devour a meal right in front of us, but you are not expected to avoid eating or drinking altogether. That means you can still go about your business as usual. (Just turn a deaf ear to our rumbling tummies.)
Muslims are used to questions about their faith and will, most of the time, be more than happy to let you know all about their beliefs. But asking too many questions can seem overwhelming, especially during an 18-hour-long fast when all you can think about is making it through without water and food. Plus, with the internet, you can practically google any of your concerns and give your Muslim friends an easier time.
As Muslims, none of us expect you to fast with us, but you are always welcome to try it out. You can try it if you want to see how it feels. But, even if we're best friends, it won't hurt our feelings. Iftar is the fast-breaking meal served after sundown. We like to have a large communal meal, and you are welcome to attend; just ask!
Ramadan isn't like Christmas or Thanksgiving in that everyone knows when it will fall. It shifts because the Islamic calendar is lunar. It starts when the new moon appears. That is why the exact dates differ from year to year.
The method we use to determine when Ramadan begins is decidedly antiquated: You must see the moon in person (even though there are apps for that). That's why if a coworker asks, "Can I start work early tomorrow so I can leave earlier?" Try to be accommodating.
If you're willing to go the extra mile and really help your Muslim friends this Ramadan, why not give them the gift of food by helping prepare a meal for Iftar or treating them to Suhoor? Since Muslims believe the month itself is also all about giving and being generous, this is one of the best ways to help out your fasted friends. Not to mention what a relief it is to break a fast with delicious food.
Like all religious holidays, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to reflect spiritually and physically. If your Muslim friends are fasting, the best thing to do is be as supportive as you can. Asking gentle questions and having an open mind are all your Muslim friends need from you.