12 April 2021, Monday, kickstarts Ramadan 2021; the month-long religious event observed by Muslims worldwide. During this time, adult Muslims must fast from food and drinks and abstain from sinful behaviours, sexual relations and tobacco products. It’s a time for prayer and reflection, and many regard this to be a big test of faith.
With that said, how can we better support our Muslim friends observing Ramadan? Surely fasting from sunrise to sundown for over four weeks is no easy feat. So, if you’re looking for ways to show solidarity to your Muslim friends this Ramadan, check out our quick guide on how to offer support tactfully!
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Imagine having to abstain from your favourite food for over eight hours, only to have your friends jio you out for KFC. Insensitive right?
Try to steer clear of food-centric activities and opt for alternatives like low-intensity games to occupy your Muslim friends and keep their minds off their tummies. Think board games (Monopoly is excellent for a little bit of friendly competition), sightseeing, scrapbooking, or binge-watching new Disney+ movies. Try to plan your activities ahead of time when you can, and include a variation of items to keep yourselves entertained!
On avoiding ventures centred around food, another big no-no is high-intensity activities like biking, skating or going hiking. While these activities are likely to come to mind first when planning a day out with friends, strenuous exercise or movement can result in dehydration.
With our Muslim friends unable to quench their thirst while fasting, anything that requires you to break a sweat would not be suitable. Instead, opt for gentle strolls by the beach or in your neighbourhood park. Check the weather forecasts and choose days where there is more cloud cover; you’ll thank me later!
We’ve all accidentally slipped up in front of our friends during Ramadan – blabbering excitedly about the newest pasta place we visited over the weekend, or perhaps the funky cocktail bar we chanced upon. While our Muslim counterparts may wave it off with a good-natured chuckle, comments like these demonstrate a lack of consideration.
So next time you catch yourself on the brink of commenting about how delicious your lunch was, have some tact and hold your tongue! If you notice your friends committing conversation carnage, gently remind them in private that it is Ramadan. You’ll be rewarded with a warm feeling in your chest!
Sahur, or pre-dawn meal, is a meal eaten before commencing fasting for the day. During this time, Muslim families gather to eat together before engaging in prayers.
Surviving on what is essentially breakfast the whole day can be exhausting, and more often than not, our Muslim friends find themselves weary or tired. One way of showing support can be gifting them energy-packed, nutritious breakfast items they can eat during sahur. Food like oats, whole grains, yoghurt, fruits and nut butter are excellent for keeping one rejuvenated the entire day and are ideal for sahur. Consider cooking up a batch of tasty overnight oats for your friend and make their day! Of course, don’t forget to make sure everything is halal certified.
While it is optional for non-muslims to fast, it can be seen as an act of solidarity and helps our Muslim friends feel less alone; especially during mealtimes.
If you’re able to, you can try abstaining from food or drink during mealtimes with your friends. To keep your minds off food, play a game, catch up on a project or spill the tea about the newest, juiciest gossip. Your Muslim friends will appreciate the kind gesture, and it’s sure to have them smiling from ear to ear!
While non-muslims may not fully grasp the traditions and practices that constitute Ramadan, we can still strive to be open-minded and considerate toward the plight of our Muslim counterparts.
Actions like refraining from staring when our Muslim friends engage in prayers or not questioning them when they need to excuse themselves to return home for the day are little actions that show our support and empathy. While you may be curious about the different facets of Ramadan, always check with your Muslim friends if they are comfortable answering your questions first. If you’re unsure if your question is offensive or crude, a pre-emptive measure would be to Google your questions beforehand.
2021 is all about embracing our differences and embracing inclusivity, regardless of race and religion. With our handy guide, you’re sure to put some smiles on your friends’ faces this Ramadan!