It’s Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar and for 30 days, Muslims around the world will abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. Ramadan isn’t just about avoiding food and drink from dawn and dusk. You can’t lie or slander someone. You also can’t lust after things. You shouldn’t do any of those things anyway. But to do them during Ramadan is especially bad. The idea is to use this month to cultivate self-discipline that you’ll keep practicing the rest of the year. In that sense, think of Ramadan as a spiritual detox.
While that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry on business as usual I have nevertheless found myself repeatedly unsure of what to say or do around my fasting friends.
The worst thing I think I have said to a friend was when she told me she couldn’t meet for lunch because she was fasting and I said sorry. Moments later I just wanted the ground to swallow me after realizing my mistake. If you have Muslim friends and family I am sure you must have asked yourself what you should be doing so you don’t come across as insensitive to your fasting friends.
Here I compiled a short and quick list of what not to do or say during Ramadhan.
The first one is obviously to never ever say sorry for fasting.
It is totally okay to eat in front of someone fasting
Do not to schedule a work lunch
Definitely don’t invite them to a bar
You don’t have to join the fast just for the sake of your family or friend. Although you can fast if you are feeling adventurous and you want to find out what it feels like.
But please don’t say “I should fast too. I need to lose weight”. Ramadan’s not about that. Plus, one of Ramadan’s side effects is obesity. (It’s all that post-sundown overeating.)
You are allowed to join Muslim family and friends for Iftar. Iftar is the breaking of the fast after sundown. They like to make it a big communal meal.
Be flexible with employees because they might want leave earlier than usual during this month.
Don’t think they are being rude if they keep their distance from you. Among other things there is a case of halitosis as a result of not eating or drinking the entire day.
You can say “Ramadan Mubarak” (It means “Happy Ramadan”). Your Muslim co-worker will appreciate the thoughtfulness.