A Simple Set Of Guidelines For Non-Muslims During Ramadan
If you’re a non-Muslim – and particularly if you’re new to Dubai – knowing what to do and how to behave during Ramadan can be daunting. Writer Ananda Shakespeare shares a simple set of guidelines to help you figure it all out and be respectful of others during the Holy Month.
Engage with Muslims– could there be a better time than to learn more about the culture we all live amongst than the Holy Month? It’s a chance to learn more about the pillars of Islam. And wish them ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ which means ‘Happy Ramadan’.
Fast– Even if it’s only for a day, trying out a fast as a non-Muslim might bring you closer to our neighbours, and help you gain a deeper understanding of the challenges. And there are obvious health benefits too.
Take Iftar– even if you are not fasting, iftar is a fantastic cultural experience, and a chance for many of us to explore different foods. Head for a more traditional iftar rather than a modern hotel and do let those fasting get their food first! Just remember it’s offensive (and uncouth) to over indulge.
Be polite– remember, it’s the season to be extra nice. Take the time out to practice being more patient, more caring, more sharing, and let’s all help make Ramadan a truly wonderful time. Charitable giving is a big part of Ramadan and of Islam so make an effort to be kind, to think of people who need help and to ‘give’ in whatever way you can (the Ramadan sharing fridges are a great way for the whole family to get involved).
Teach Your Kids – While children are exempt from fasting during Ramadan, make sure to teach them why they should be more discreet when taking a sip of water – and why their favourite ice-cream stand might not be serving – plus tell them exactly what Ramadan is about so that they can understand it better.
Eat or drink in public.The golden rule! Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. While you might find that hotel coffee shop is still dishing out espresso behind closed doors, be mindful that the ultimate disrespect during the Holy Month is to walk down the street chewing, drinking or smoking. Pregnant or nursing women, the elderly and the sick are exempt but should still be mindful, respectful and discreet.
Expect to do much (local) business after 3pm.Yes, you might have a deadline, but those fasting will be on their way home, preparing for Maghrib prayers and their breakfast. Be mindful of afternoon traffic, as well.
Wear revealing clothes – a good idea as a rule in a Muslim country – but more so during Ramadan: and particularly important when visiting malls, hotels and iftar tents. If you think it’s sheer, too short, low-cut or tight-fitting, then it probably is. Better to err on the side of modesty than cause offence.
Question why someone isn’t fasting– it’s a highly personal issue, and the person might not be fasting for many valid reasons. While fasting is a pillar of Islam, just because someone isn’t fasting doesn’t mean they’re not participating in the other aspects of Ramadan.