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Ramadan etiquette: A guide to your Muslim neighbor’s holy month

1 August 2011 General 16 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
This Wednesday, July 20, 2011 photo shows personal trainer Mubarakah Ibrahim, right, as she watches client Mari Walker, left, run, during Ibrahim's early morning boot camp class in New Haven, Conn. Ibrahim, who is Muslim, is planning on re-arranging her training schedule to mostly mornings during Ramadan when she has the most energy. (Jessica Hill - AP)

This Wednesday, July 20, 2011 photo shows personal trainer Mubarakah Ibrahim, right, as she watches client Mari Walker, left, run, during Ibrahim's early morning boot camp class in New Haven, Conn. Ibrahim, who is Muslim, is planning on re-arranging her training schedule to mostly mornings during Ramadan when she has the most energy. (Jessica Hill - AP)

By  and Shazia Kamal

Contributors to AltMuslimah.com

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’re not God – and aren’t enjoying it. 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.

Original post: Ramadan etiquette: A guide to your Muslim neighbor’s holy month

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16 Comments »

  1. i’m confused this artilce says “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.”

    but an earlier artilce (i tried to put the link in but it wouldn’t take) says:

    “U.S. personnel are not expected to fast during Ramadan, but community members must refrain from eating, chewing gum, drinking water, smoking or chewing tobacco in public during daylight hours, according to 5th Fleet. “‘In public’ includes riding in a bus or car (even your own), walking or exercising,” according to the 5th Fleet’s Facebook page. “Eating, drinking or smoking by a non-Muslim in public during the day is considered a civil offence by many local laws, which may result in a fine or confinement.””

  2. They mean engaging in them while not eating, i.e. attending the lunch meeting and participating with the others while the other people eat but not eating themselves.

    Basically, they were trying to say don’t feel bad if you eat in front of someone who is fasting; they won’t mind.

  3. Oh, I see you were talking about something else; I don’t know what that was refering to but I’m pretty sure it didn’t mean the USA, maybe it was talking about an outpost or embassy in a primarily Muslim country?

  4. Maryam alKorji,

    islamophobia article titled: Troops in Mideast given guidance on Ramadan (scroll down) “Among guidance issued to U.S. military deployed in Muslim majority countries, the Bahrain-based command of U.S. Navy 5th Fleet posted guidance for sailors and their family members to heed during Ramadan when off base.”

    sorry like i said i couldn’t post the link, perhaps it’s from this very website.

    yes it is talking about a muslim nation. so muslims in a muslim majority nation are offended by non-muslims eating in front of them during ramadan. but in non-muslim nations they are not?

  5. forget about eating a snikers or sipping water in puplic. such disrespect of ramadan by those (what’s the word i’m looking for) mooslem hating syrians.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14367773

  6. mike the “Islamic scholar”!!.. Those recommendations you are referring to from the previous article, were recommendations MADE BY the commanders of those occupying forces, in order to respect and be sensitive in the month of ramadan to those whom they are occupying and were NOT made by the muslims of those countries…
    Islamically speaking their is absolutely NO prohibitions on non-muslims to eat in front of a muslim while he/she is fasting in any case what so ever, but IF the non-muslim doesn’t eat in front of the fasting person out of respest, then that is another case and the thanks should go to that specific person. SO it is in that sense, that the commanders were recommending their occupying troops to fallow.. And frankly speaking it is the least they can do, after cowardly blinded drone attacks, after hundreds and hundreds of innocent civilians are slauthered, after domolitions of infrastucture ect..
    Since you claim to be such “expert” in islam scripture, you should at least khows such minor details…peace

  7. In honor of ramadan, I will be sipping a couple of nice cold beers and eating a little pulled pork. Then I will give a toast to one crazy religion.

  8. @to the islmophobe above who call IT self lovethemblabla….From now on i will refer to the beast of your kind @LOVETHEMHILTER..AND MAY YOU BEAST CHOKE ON YOUR BEER AND FILTY PORK!!!!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

  9. @Sahra hey that’s no way to be. Yes the above posters are jackasses by they just want a reaction out of you. In my day we called them attention whores. If they not willing to learn something from another culture than their loss.

  10. @jocelyn..come down, i was just jocking!! i wasn’t serious, i just wanted to give him a little taste of his own medicine that’s all, i know his an attention whore! peace..

  11. sahra,

    first let me say, you are welcome to call me anything you want. i think Jocelyn just called me a kackass for some reason? but please refrain from putting words in my mouth. you said, “Since you claim to be such “expert” in islam scripture”, when? i’ve never claimed to be an expert on anything?

    as for eating in public you say, “Islamically speaking their is absolutely NO prohibitions on non-muslims to eat in front of a muslim while he/she is fasting in any case what so ever,” and “NOT made by the muslims of those countries”? but the article also says, ““Eating, drinking or smoking by a non-Muslim in public during the day is considered a civil offence by many local laws, which may result in a fine or confinement.”” and ““They are also warned that these actions are punishable under local law,” he said.”

  12. Hi Mike (and Sahra),

    I am a Muslim from outside the US, also living in a Minority Muslim coutnry.

    @ Mike: This particular article refers to the etiquette with regard to fasting, and the etiquette observed by those around. As is obvious, it also refers to a majority non-Muslim situation. This is why it iterates the fact that life must go on around us, and fasting is not an excuse for non-participation.

    However, in Muslim majority countries they take the attitude of disallowing, by law, any activity which doesn’t go in line with fasting. Which is why the Bahrain 5th fleet were given those instructions by their commanders. This is not as much an Islamic injunction as a local law.

    Whether such a law is fair is debatable. Many Muslims from minority Muslim countries would think it ridiculous to have such laws, just because the majority is Muslim in those countries. I personally feel its wrong, ‘cos I wouldn’t want to live with a ban on the intake of beef, in my country. I live in Sri Lanka,a Buddhist majority country. ( The Buddhist generally believe in not eating meats, mainly beef.)

    @ Sahra: Its better if you were to not be rude to anyone posting on here. The point is to minimize Islamophobia, not add fuel to the fire. You would also do well to be better informed and to read the contents through before commenting, ‘cos you sadly come across as an ill-informed arguer.

    Mike was asking a genuine question and a proper resonse would have left everything a bit more postive.

    Salaams

  13. I am glad to see there is one adult reading and posting. Thanks, Mahas.

  14. great-grandmother,

    why don’t you read and post more?

  15. It would be a lot more refreshing if posters here acknowledged that there is no such thing as Islamophobia, which implies an unreasonable fear of, or concern about, Islam. There is nothing unreasonable about being concerned about a totalitarian death cult that seeks to dominate the world and impose its own brand of 7th century barbarism. A more correct term would be Islamo-realism, or Islamo-awareness, not Islamophobia.

  16. Thank you for the information. I have muslim next door neighbors and I often wondered how to express something like this.

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