Not Muslim? Not a Problem: Ramadan 101

This year, from the end of May to the end of June, Muslims around the world both celebrate and participate in the month of Ramadan. From that sentence alone, I’m pretty sure you have a few questions racing through your mind ranging from but not limited to, “A month called Ramadan?” “Where’s this month on the calendar?” or “What is Ramadan?”

1. Rama-What?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar (which is probably why you’ve never seen it on your dog of the month calendar). It’s an extremely sacred month for Muslims because it is believed that the Qur’an (the Islamic Holy Book) was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during this month. Throughout the month, Muslims practice self-discipline, the most common being fasting. Muslims abstain from eating or drinking anything (yes…even water) from sunrise to sunset. Muslims begin their fast after eating the early morning meal called suhoor, and break their fast by eating the meal after sunset called iftar.

Ramadan is a month devoted to spiritual reflection and improvement, which varies from person to person; however, the end goal is one in the same: get closer to God. Some other common practices during the month include attending the additional nightly prayers or reading the entire Qur’an.

2. Not everyone fasts

While the most common and visible practice of Ramadan is fasting, not everyone fasts. Women don’t fast while they’re on their periods, if they’re pregnant, or if they’re breastfeeding. Other reasons can range from medical reasons like being diabetic to health reasons like sickness and old age or even travelling. Bottom line is if you see a friend or coworker fasting one day and not fasting the next, don’t question it because I promise you they’re not cheating!

3. If you’re not fasting, don’t avoid us

Seriously… I can’t say it enough. Just because we can’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s all part of our self-discipline, and trust me it’s really not awkward unless you make it awkward.

4. Give us a break, we’re exhausted

There’s no denying it, fasting is really challenging. If your fasting friend or coworker seems tired or a little off, let them be. Fasting for up to 17 or 18 hours a day takes a toll on your energy. I mean, imagine how tired or cranky you’d be without your morning cup of coffee!

5. Ramadan can be a little unpredictable

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, meaning it follows the moon. Sounds a little weird, believe me, we know. Although we have a general idea of when Ramadan falls every year, we’re never precisely sure when it’ll start or end until a night or two before. If a coworker or employee asks for a day off or for you to cover his or her shift last minute because of the Islamic holiday after Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr), be as accommodating as possible. We can’t help it either.

6. Ramadan isn’t about losing weight or stuffing your face

From not eating food or drinking water during the day, you might initially consider Ramadan a diet. While we optimistically like to call it that, Ramadan isn’t a diet nor is it a time for us to stuff our faces until we literally can’t move when we break our fast (I’ve done that before… It’s not fun). As mentioned earlier, it’s a time devoted to spiritual reflection and improvement. We fast because God asked us to. We fast because it teaches us self-discipline and patience. We fast because it teaches us to be thankful of our blessings and aware that for some people, fasting isn’t just limited to Ramadan, but is a daily struggle.

Ramadan is a time to sit down and break fast with family and close friends. Ramadan is a time to build your self-discipline and strength. Ultimately, Ramadan is a time to better one’s self. Honestly, while Ramadan is difficult, it’s a beautiful time of the year and at the end of it, I’m sad to see it go (but slightly happy that I can have my morning coffee again).

If you’re still curious or want to have a new experience, come break fast with us. Yes we’re hungry… but we don’t bite.