If you have friends who believe in Islam, you know that they are going through Ramadan. During this time period, you can offer them plenty of moral and emotional support. There are plenty of ways to do this, but first, let’s clarify some misconceptions.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Muslim calendar and begins with a crescent moon. This year, the start of Ramadan was March 22.
For one month, Muslims around the world fast from the morning when the sun rises to the evening. Moreover, Muslims practice self-restraint, which means no forms of immoral behavior or sexual activity.
When night falls, Muslims partake in a sunset prayer. Then, they will break their fast with a meal called “iftar.” This meal usually begins with dates, as it was the custom of Prophet Muhammad. Some may also start the meal with apricots and water or sweetened milk.
Throughout the night, there may also be celebrations and prayers in the Mosque, where the whole Quran is recited. After these celebrations, some Muslims may ring bells to indicate that it is time for suhoor, the meal before dawn.
A common misconception is that fasting is mandatory for all Muslims. However, there are accommodations. For example, if you are required to travel, you can make up the lost days with an extra day of fasting. Moreover, pregnant women, children, older adults, and those suffering from mental or physical health conditions are exempt from fasting. Instead, they can volunteer or perform charitable acts.
Overall, Ramadan is marked as a period of introspection, community, and prayers amongst families and friends.
And after one month, Eid al-Fitr begins. A huge feast marks the beginning of Eid.
Supporting Your Fellow Muslim Friends
There are plenty of ways to support your Muslim friends throughout Ramadan. When supporting them, it is best to be mindful and be aware of your actions. Here are some ways:
1. Educate Yourself
If you’re not familiar with Islam, you may have unconscious biases about the religion. You also may not be entirely sure on what Ramadan is about. Therefore, before asking your friend questions, you can start by doing your own research. There are plenty of resources such as Islamic Networks Group, National Geographic, and Middle East Eye.
2. Watch out for microaggressions
Avoid asking questions such as “So you cannot even drink water?” or “Why are you not fasting if it is Ramadan?” These questions are microaggressions as they’re based on assumptions about a particular religion. Also, ensure that you’re not comparing your own experiences to your friend’s. Comments such as “I understand, I have fasted before” discount the experience of those fasting for Ramadan.
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions
If you’re interested in educating yourself about Ramadan, you can ask open-ended questions such as, “What does fasting mean to you?” or “What does Ramadan mean to you?” This will allow you and your friend to engage in a thoughtful discussion and self-reflect.
4. Be accommodating
Ask your friend first if they are okay with you eating in front of them. If they are, don’t worry about hiding your lunch or dinner.
5. Do not mention weight loss
Since fasting is a spiritual practice, mentioning weight loss is ignoring the self-reflective aspects of Ramadan. Moreover, it also perpetuates body shaming, which is very triggering to those with eating disorders.
6. Ask your friends about meet-ups
Since your friend’s schedule varies, ask them when they’re available to meet for a get-together. Make sure you understand their needs before making a decision. For example, if they want to stay outside late, be accommodating. And if they’re not comfortable with walking long distances, be mindful of this.
Also, they may ask you to join Iftar, so gladly accept the invitation.
7. Wish people a ‘Ramadan Mubarak’
You can learn some greetings: ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ means ‘Have a blessed Ramadan.’
8. Bond with your friend
Ramadan is a time of community. Join your friend for their favorite activities and ask if you can purchase them a meal during the night. Go on late night strolls with them and ask if they need their shifts swapped for work. Find different ways to connect with them on a deeper level.
Other than fasting, Ramadan is a time for someone to look inward by reflecting on past mistakes, participating in community service work, and fostering friendships. Hence, you can support your friends throughout their spiritual faith journey and educate yourself throughout it as well.
Featured image via Hasan Almasi on Unsplash
On the Muslim calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month, and it starts with a crescent moon. We can provide them with a lot of moral and emotional support during this time.
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Be thoughtful when forming your plans. Make plans to meet with pals earlier when they may still feel energetic from their breakfast.
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