Simple ways to support your Muslim friends and colleagues this Ramadan
Show you care by ordering your meals earlier or scheduling meetings before sunset to accommodate to your fasting friends' schedules.
Today marks the first day of Ramadan for Muslims. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Muslims around the world will be welcoming the sacred month differently this year.
Interestingly, many of my non-Muslim friends have asked me how they can help those who are observing Ramadan, especially since we are all staying home.
Here are seven ways you can support your friends and colleagues who are fasting.
1. Schedule meetings before 4pm
As Muslims break their fast after sunset, usually around 7pm for Singapore, I recommend scheduling meetings or other online events earlier in the day.
This will give your Muslim friends and colleagues sufficient time to prepare food for iftar (meal taken to break one’s fast) and perform prayers in the evening.
2. Avoid asking sensitive questions like "Why aren't you fasting?"
During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk for a month.
However, some are exempted from fasting, such as young pre-pubescent children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, women on their period, and people with health problems.
There are many reasons as to why someone may not fast. Most times, it may be too personal for us to answer.
Instead you could ask questions about Ramadan or even what we’re going to have for iftar!
3. Don't feel guilty about eating in front of us or Instagramming your meals
We certainly don’t mind if you happen to be eating in front of us, or if you are posting food photos on your social media.
However, you don’t need to hide from us every time you eat or block us on social media during this period. That’ll upset us more than the fact that McDonald’s and bubble tea are unavailable during Ramadan.
If you’re unsure about eating in front of a fasting person, just ask! Or post your food photos after 7pm instead – you might get more likes by then.
4. Try to order food earlier
As we continue staying home during this circuit breaker period, some Muslims may opt for food deliveries to break their fast for its convenience.
One simple way to help your Muslim friends is by ordering your dinner earlier if you can. This small gesture might help Muslim diners receive their orders on time, while giving Muslim food delivery riders adequate time to break their fast on the go.
5. Have iftar with us
During Ramadan, I usually have iftar with my family at home. The whole table will be filled with a colourful spread of food including dates and porridge from the mosque, and jugs of bandung.
This year, why not have a virtual dinner with your Muslim friends? Having your company for iftar would mean a lot to us. You’ll also get to witness how chaotic the dinner table can be once we break our fast!
6. Get into the spirit of giving
Ramadan is also the month of giving. As Muslims, we are encouraged to be more charitable and reflect on the plights of the less privileged.
If you have some money to spare, you could consider donating to local organisations who are providing meals and groceries to those in need.
7. Check in with your Muslim friends
Fasting can be tough, especially in humid Singapore. Some of us tend to feel lethargic by the middle of the day. Check in with from time to time to see if we’re coping well. Your texts could perk us up right away!
Don’t forget to wish them “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem”!