How to Support Your Muslims Friends Through Ramadan
It’s the ninth month of the lunar calendar which means it is one of the most sacred times of the year for followers of the Islamic faith. You may have heard your Muslim co-workers and friends discussing things like, “how are you planning on working out during Ramadan?” or “can we give Zakat before Ramadan?” recently, and that is because the month long fast of Ramadan is underway.
During Ramadan, Muslims cannot eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. During winter it can be easier because the days are shorter and the climate is cooler, but this year Ramadan falls on the cusp of spring and summer, meaning the days are slightly longer and warmer which can make the fast harder.
There are several ways you can support your Muslim friends throughout their fast, and they are as follows.
- Understand the Concept of Ramadan
One of the best ways you can support your Islamic friends during Ramadan is to learn about it. Utilize online resources and ask questions about the significance of the month, why Muslims observe it, and what the customs during the fast are. This will show your friends that you care about their beliefs and have made an effort to understand them. It’s a small gesture that can a long way.
- Don’t Hide Food
A lot of non-Muslims think that they have to hide their food and drink from their Muslim friends during the time of Ramadan so as not to offend them or tempt them, but this is actually a bad thing. Sure, you should be considerate and avoid having a three-course meal consisting of their favorite foods in front of them, but your friends will know that as a non-Muslim, you won’t be fasting. They will expect you to go about your day as normal, and oftentimes one of the best things you can do is carry on as you normally would. If in doubt, discuss it with your friend directly.
- Do Not Mention Weight
It’s good practice to not talk about weight or weight loss in general, but especially to Muslims during Ramadan. Saying things like: “I bet you lose lots of weight during Ramadan” is not helpful in the slightest and can actually be somewhat offensive. Ramadan is a religious practice and is done as a way for Muslims to get closer to their faith (amongst other things). It is not a diet fad and isn’t comparable to intermittent fasting diets or other weight loss plans, nor is weight loss the goal for Ramadan.
- Consider Workloads
As Muslims cannot eat or drink during Ramadan, you might want to consider how you can ease their workload – especially if you work together in a manual job. Of course, it’s best to consult with your friend first as they might be fine to continue working as normal, but asking the question is an appreciated gesture. For those in management positions, you can support your Muslim employees by considering flexible working hours. They will go to bed late and wake early to accommodate their iftar and suhoor meals, so it’s likely they will be more tired than usual and would prefer to start work later and finish later. Some might not, but offering them the opportunity shows that you’re aware of their beliefs and are willing to accommodate them.
These are just five ways you can support your Muslim colleagues and friends during the month of Ramadan. If in doubt, the best thing you can do is ask your co-worker/friend how best you can support them during the month long fast.