Ramadan is here again and we want to wish you all Ramadan Kareem. As one of the five pillars of Islam, Siyam or fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan is obligatory to all adult Muslims except those who are exempt, such as those who are sick, etc. Even though this time around it comes again in the middle of the summer, we hope all our AUS community members will try to make the best of it and enjoy the experience.
Now, as a multi-cultural community with people virtually from all over the world, AUS recognizes that there are some among us who are experiencing Ramadan for the very first time and are unfamiliar with its etiquette. So read on for some important tips to all our non-Muslim community members as to how to blend in and enjoy the experience. The rest of this blog will serve as a quick guide to all our non-Muslim community members and Ramadan first-timers on how to enjoy the experience as they interact with the local culture during this Holy Month.
Join the Conversation
You can always ask your Muslim friends and colleagues who are fasting about Ramadan. The best way to understand this practice is by engaging in dialogue with others. Start the conversation by saying, “Ramadan Kareem,” which means Generous Ramadan, or “Ramadan Mubarak,” meaning Blessed Ramadan. Then ask away!
Enjoy the Ramadan Spirit
If you are invited to an Iftar, it is conventional to say yes and may be considered impolite if you refuse. If you feel obliged to bring something with you, sweets or dates would do, but it isn’t necessary. You can always invite them back to an Iftar as a token of appreciation.
Fasting is challenging and energy draining. You may notice that your friends and colleagues are performing tasks at a much slower rate than they normally do. Cut them some slack, they need it. Also, avoid cursing, arguing, and fighting. They will only yield negativity and foster ill feelings between people. Who wants to go home with a bad mood and a headache!
Be Active in Your Community
Give charity whenever you can, and join the many local festivities done in celebration of the holy month. Why not explore different cuisines throughout the month? Hotels and restaurants will offer you ways to enjoy Iftars. You can also partake of the many Iftars served in various mosques around. But remember: Jog it away later.
Be Careful when You Drive
Avoid driving in rush hour. It usually occurs in the morning, late afternoon prior to Iftar and then later in the evening. Try to schedule your errands accordingly. Don’t forget to keep both eyes open while driving. Accidents are more prone to happen when the general population is fasting.
Respect Those Fasting
Don’t eat, drink, or smoke in public. Try to be respectful to those around you by not engaging in activity they are prohibited from doing.
Don’t play loud music while others are fasting. Ramadan is about connecting with God and finding one’s spiritual essence. It is a month where Muslims are expected to minimize entertainment and be keen with their religious practices. Blasting music can be considered both disrespectful and distracting.
Don’t display affection in public or wear provocative clothing. Try to understand that Muslims are fasting as part of their faith and thus need as much support as you can give.
It is possible that you may come across Muslims doing the very things you’re avoiding for their sake, but that does not mean these actions are acceptable.
Do you have anything else to add? Share away!
Nour Al-Ali is an English Literature and Mass Communication double major junior at the American University of Sharjah.
For more information about American University of Sharjah, please visit www.aus.edu