In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

A Ramadan guide for non-Muslims

by Asma Uddin and Shazia Kamal
Source: Washington Post

Filed under: Featured,Islam,Lifestyle,Ramadan,Virtue |

In the next few weeks, you may come into work and find your co-worker taking a power nap at 9:30am. At break time, you’ll notice she is missing in the discussion about Harry Potter over at the water cooler. At the staff meeting, you will be shocked when she is offered coffee and cookies and refuses ! By lunch time, your concern about her missing at the water cooler compels you to investigate the situation.

Then you remember what she had mentioned last week over a delicious Sushi lunch. Flooded with relief, you go up to her desk, and proclaim with much gusto, “Ramadan Mubarak (Moo-baa-rak)!” Ramadan’s Blessings to you!

The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.

While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: Fasting while working is an even greater endeavor. Make it a little easier on your Muslim colleague by following a couple of simple rules:

The Greeting

The next time you find yourself in line for the copier with your Muslim colleague, feel free to wish him or her “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” or simply “Happy Ramadan.” We absolutely love it when people acknowledge Ramadan and are happy about it.

Positive Reinforcement

Keep in mind that we’re fasting voluntarily and, actually, pretty joyously (despite the tired, sad look on our face). We’re not forced to fast. In fact, we wait for this month the whole year, so you don’t have to feel sorry for us. We are not trying to be rescued (other than by that ticking clock taking us closer to sunset!).

The Lunch Meeting

Most of us understand that life goes on, and so do lunch meetings, and if we are participating in them while fasting, don’t worry about eating in front of us. This is just part of the test. We appreciate your acknowledging our fast, but don’t feel the need to discuss it every time you show up in our line of sight holding food.

Just try not to eat smelly foods. . . and please ignore our stomach when it growls at your sandwich.

No Water

It’s true — we can’t drink water either. Again, this is part of the Ramadan test and our exercise of spiritual discipline. This is probably why you may not find your friend at the water cooler. Try switching the break time conversation to another location in the office. You should probably also let them skip their turn for the coffee run this time.

Halitosis

While God may tell us that the breath of the one fasting is like “fragrant musk” to Him, we know that you might not experience the same. Understand why we’re standing a good foot away from you when speaking or simply using sign language to communicate.

Iftar Dinner

Consider holding a Ramadan Iftar dinner . Iftar is the Arabic word for the meal served at sunset when we break the fast (it’s literally our ‘breakfast’). This will be a nice gesture for Muslim coworkers and will give others the opportunity to learn about and partake in Ramadan festivities. Although there is no specific type of meal designated for iftars, it is is tradition to break the fast with a sweet and refreshing date before moving to a full-on dinner

Fasting is not an excuse

Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from our other duties and responsibilities. We believe that we are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during our fasts. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings, clear schedules, or take a lighter load on projects.

That said – we don’t mind if you help work in a nap time for us!

Ramadan is a time for community and charity. There are iftar dinners held at mosques every night (you are welcome to join the fun – even if you’re not fasting!) and night time prayer vigils throughout the month. We give charity in abundance and make an extra effort to partake in community service. Throughout it all, we maintain an ambiance of joy and gratitude for all that God has blessed us with, and reflect on those in this world who have been given much less. This is a time for all of us–not just Muslims–to renew our spiritual intentions, increase our knowledge, and change ourselves for the better.

46 comments
MohammedAbdalla
MohammedAbdalla

my friend, i was only trying to connect on a sheer intellectual level, why do women have to link everything to the downstairs subject. i hate this kinda attitude. men are not plumbers to be continuously thinking about your pink hole. 

lailaannamaria
lailaannamaria

Soon Ramadan is over. Let us use some time to pray for the suffering children in Gaza.

lailaannamaria
lailaannamaria

I am not a muslim, but I have read much both Quran and Hadith. I have studied in the university , religion. I have much respect for Islam the way I know it. I am not drinking alcohol during Ramadan, not to show off, but to do something that is good in the eyes of God. ( I doubt I will drink alcohol again, anyway...this is a great help to me, since I have had problems with drinking to be able to funccion outside my home because of severe panic anxiety all my grown life) I am a God beliver and do not feel there are any other God than God, so I do not support violence or ignorance in the name of God.

Since many I know are having Ramadan, I also respect them  in everyday life.

Have a good summer, and bless you for these very useful pages.

Muslim cool boy
Muslim cool boy

Hello my dear non Muslim commenter. I would like to tell you one thing in short.dubai or uae is Muslim or u can say Islamic country.so you have to respect Muslims.and you all have to follow and respect Islamic rules made by almighty Allah. If you cannot do this than you can happily go back to your own country and do wat ever you want.so just keep your mouth shut n follow our rules and regulations. Hope you will.thank you

Johan
Johan

I enjoy dates for dinner occasionally, too. Especially if they have a fun personality.

Irish Moss
Irish Moss

Ramadan Mubarak to you! Nice article. I hope people read it and become more informed on the traditions of Muslim people. Bless. 

Julz
Julz

A very very nice information! I've worked in Riyadh for two years... but didn't know Muslims felt when greeted @ this time (Ramadan) not until I read this article :) and the Very sweet DATES before iftar too... 



Sahil Khan
Sahil Khan

Ramadan Cant be kareem
the word Kareem is meant for Allah.
please give some thoughts on that

nomand_nameless
nomand_nameless

As a Muslim who's currently arrived in Dubai from England I am surprised by the laws of not eating in public for even non Muslims, living in England and observing Ramadan was never a problem for me or my family or friends, and also to clarify Fasting is compulsory on believing Muslims who can fast. It is NOT voluntary, it is one of the 5 pillars of the faith. But exceptions apply.

adams72
adams72

great guide, great info

Maria
Maria

This is a great article! Thank you for writing it.  It addresses Ramadan the way Ramadan should be observed by the general public and Muslims living together.

Guest
Guest

Thanks for this guide!  Really helpful for non-muslims.  One of my colleagues in my team is muslim and is fasting for Ramadan.  Do you think it would be acceptable for us as non-muslims to get him a Happy Eid card for the first day of Eid?

Linda
Linda

Thank you  so much for this guide. I now understand how i can be of help to my Muslim friends during this Holy month. Ramadan Mubarak everyone

CelticChick
CelticChick

Thanks very much for this guide! As a non-Muslim who has just recently had the pleasure of meeting and working with some awesome and cool Muslims, this helps me to understand a little more about Ramadan. One question though. Since we are up in Northern Canada and the sun barely goes down past the horizon, and this doesn't usually happen until past midnight, is there any guidelines for what is considered sunset?

luckyfatima
luckyfatima

I would also add that not everyone is fasting so non-Muslims shouldn't act like they have caught a Muslim with their hand in the cookie jar for eating during the day. Menstruating women don't fast, and pregnant and diabetic people should NOT fast (I don't care if some not-doctor scholars say it's OK), breastfeeding women, and people with any illness where fasting would compromise their health are not fasting. So yep. Non-Muslims should know that not every one is fasting. But they are still engaging in many other activities during the month, because it is not all about fasting, either.

krissie
krissie

I actually love the smell of food and coffee when I'm fasting; I find it so comforting. So i disagree with the article where it says try not to have 'smelly foods'. Also I would hate for anyone to alter their lunch for fear of offending me. My fasting shouldn't inconvenience my co-workers in anyway.

Gethdimage
Gethdimage

Yeah this post information for Ramadan guide for non Muslims is really awesome ideas.

HALM
HALM

On 'halitosis' again!

As I pointed out 12 months ago, that regular brushing of one's teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste or regular use of mouthwash does NOT invalidate the fast  as long as the person does not swallow the saliva that has mixed with the toothpaste. Also, the lingering flavour or taste of the toothpaste that mixes with the saliva does NOT affect the fasting either

Aaliyah
Aaliyah

What lovely comments from the non-Muslims! "Off to buy dates..keep up the good work"..how sweet! The article is absolutely right when it says we are not forced to fast, we do so out of piety and we believe in the rewards that will come with fasting (God willing). That said, kind comments like those below, and a tolerance for this month, is much appreciated :)

Soma Jaf
Soma Jaf

Love your Ramadan guide for non-Muslims! It's a great way to make dawah.

Marzia Zamir
Marzia Zamir

An excellent article that all my colleaguea read and enjoyed. May you be rewarded for your efforts InshaAllah :)

Truth
Truth

Sa’d told of hearing Allah’s Messenger say, “He who has a morning meal of seven ‘ajwa dates will not suffer harm that day through toxins or magic.” (Bukhari, Hadith 5327 and Muslim, Hadith 3814)

 

‘Aisha reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, “The ‘ajwah dates of al-‘Aliya contain healing, and they are an antidote (when taken as) first thing in the morning.” (Muslim, Hadith 3815)

 

‘Aisha reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, “The ‘ajwah dates of al-‘Aliya taken as the first thing in the morning, in the state of fasting; contain healing for all (kinds of) magic or toxins.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 23592)

 

Narrated ‘Urwah: ‘Aisha used to order to make a habit of or taking in regular intervals seven ‘ajwah dates, in the state of fasting for seven mornings. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, Hadith 23945)

 

 

HALM
HALM

If any one is concerned about 'halitosis' then remember that regular brushing with toothpaste or using a mouthwah does not invalidate any fast!

Alana
Alana

I have known about ramadan through my work colleagues.They have always displayed alot of courage and piety during the fasting period. At best of times I tried not to eat in their presence during lunch breaks purely out of respect. Thank you for this info, it is well presented.

Terry B
Terry B

Very informative indeed. Ramadan Mubarak to all muslims around the world. Wish I had the strength to do it.

Jacinta
Jacinta

This is great info for all us non-muslims - thank you very much! Please keep up all your good work. The first I new about Ramadan was when a girl at work brought in a huge tray of yummy treats for everyone at the end of Ramadan.

Dranreb
Dranreb

The best I have read! Keep up the good work :)

Leigh
Leigh

I really enjoyed and appreciated your information.

G-man
G-man

loved the humour!! Brilliant and informative. That's the way!

Ellie
Ellie

Thank you for the great info!

(off to buy some dates for my friend...)

Amenah Jafarey
Amenah Jafarey

This is great! Perfect mix of the facts and good humour. Ramzan Mubarak :)

mohammedmahjoob76
mohammedmahjoob76

@lailaannamaria
you my lady have my utmost and eternal respect.
your manner is reminiscent of the impressive characters of Bernard Shaw and Goethe.
wallah (by Allah I swear) you have changed the melancholic mood I have been enjoying 

out of a despair tendency . do you mind if i ask for your email?

Anna
Anna

Hahaha funny!

Fangis
Fangis

Al-Kareem means "The Generous" which is an attribute of Allah. Kareem just means generous. Don't complicate it. It's a greeting.

mohammedmahjoob76
mohammedmahjoob76

@nomand_nameless
please don't get tricked by these misinformed practises attributed to Islam, such as decrying eating in public during Ramadan. Many of the practises in Muslim countries attributed to Islam are sheer deviation from the righteous Islam. Do you really believe that the Lord of mercy would prevent patient Muslims, or non-Muslims individuals, from eating in public during Ramadan? Why ? If we, the ordinary human beings find it close to a punishment, how would it sound in the context of the godly justice of Allah, whose one of His names is (The Most Merciful)? Many of the modern times  Muslims lack a good deal of info about the (fact and fiction) in Islam, so the result is when they seek to get closer to Islam, they seek to do that by showing more concretely (to others) that they are committed to Islam by applying whatever they could lay their hands on, of these deviant practises sourced from all eras of Islam and inserted by rotten said-to-be scholars.

(The writer of this comment is a Muslim researcher in Sunnah (Prophet Mohammed's teachings).    

chriscross2603
chriscross2603

@nomand_nameless  They probably mean that to observe a religious practice is of course an individual choice, so there is no need for someone not practicing to feel sorry for them.

mohammedmahjoob76
mohammedmahjoob76

Sudanese Mohammed,

Plz let me cite your comment mister, coz i've been saying it for long that many non-Muslims do have respect for Islam and for our Muslim beliefs more than some of the Muslims. Me and my religious Muslim colleague have been respected and had our beliefs respected by our European non-Muslim colleagues more than our MUSLIM direct manager, if any one would believe that. Our previous direct manager was an Australian lady who was a gift from God, as a manager. Our new Muslim direct manager is a torture from the devil. And I know that still no one would believe it. So who is the real Muslim? is it this allegedly one who makes us hate ourselves with his inhumane behavior, or this Catholic lady who used to treat us like her own blood brothers???

dabedeen
dabedeen

@Guest  I think that is so nice. I hope you did.I know I would love it if a non-Muslim friend got me a Happy Eid card.

chich
chich

@CelticChick In cases like this one, the community can decide on a certain time to follow for the start and break of fasting every day. There are guidelines for this process as well.

Maya
Maya

I live in Alberta, Canada. Yes, there are guidelines with regards to time - we start fasting this weekend Sunday - and the times we follow here are from dawn 3.02 am until dusk which is at 10.15pm - long hours in the beginning and then it gets slightly shorter

As the days of summer get shorter towards the end of Ramadaan.

SyedJameelQuadri
SyedJameelQuadri

@HALM Dear friend 

Using of toothpaste or mouthwash is not allowed at all in the state of fasting, one can use SIWAK or MISWAK anytime.

AbuRayyan
AbuRayyan

I am afraid this is an incorrect understanding. Fasting is also for things that have an after taste. The only thing allowed is Siwak or Miswak as they say in the sub content.

 

It is makrūh to use toothpaste whilst fasting. If per chance the toothpaste goes down the throat, it will invalidate the fast. One may use the siwāk to brush the teeth.

http://www.askimam.org/public/question_detail/17106

imranumerpk
imranumerpk

@AbuRayyan It depends who you are following. Many Scholars say that you can brush your teeth with toothpaste. 

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