This is the last entry on our short series of blog posts introducing Ramadan as a cultural hallmark for the Muslim community across the globe. Here we assume you are an average non-Muslim person who happens to have one or a few Muslim acquaintances in the workplace, neighborhood, or elsewhere. Here are some essential tips on how you can also enjoy the Ramadan with your Muslim friends while avoiding the risk of treading areas of cultural sensitivity:-
What is Ramadan?
No Eating or Drinking!
Okay, so this one should be self-evident by now. You are not expected to hide your half-eaten burger under the desk as soon as an Asian friend enters the room, of course. However, you will very likely get (or at least deserve!) some glares if you offer one to the pious person. The same goes everywhere outside of the workplace during the daytime.
Nevertheless, Ramadan also provides a unique opportunity of making a simple gift of a juice can or a fast-food deal special. Present it to your friend before evening, clarifying that it is meant for breaking the fast at sunset. This kind of Iftar gift is considered especially warm and generous. Even better, you can even invite the friend at your home for the early dinner, keeping in mind the traditional way of performing Iftar as briefly discussed earlier in this series. Be sure to ignore alcoholic products and pork when considering the menu, though!
The awareness about the working routine of Muslims in Ramadan is gradually increasing in the United States, as in Europe. Nevertheless, the care shown is more often than not far from adequate. Most Muslims, especially first-generation immigrants, expect to be relieved at the workplace during the holy month. It will contribute a big deal to the welfare of your employee or co-worker if you allow him to complete taxing assignments before Ramadan starts, then permitting fewer working hours, early-morning shifts, or an hour or so of a break during working time. Some Muslim workers, especially semi- or fully-independent ones, may even take a month of vacation for the period, which should not come as a surprise (it is a common practice for Muslims in the West). Denying this might seem much colder to your Muslim co-worker than you would expect.
Sports During Daytime
You should be careful not to tire down your Muslim friend during Ramadan, mainly if it is summer. Many young people usually fond of sports or exercise, give it up at least daytime in this period. Strenuous exercise while fasting can result in severe dehydration, so do not push your friend to assist your team in that tennis match tomorrow! However, over-generalizing this concern is unnecessary, since Muslim enthusiasts (both in international as well as street-level sports) play as hard during fasting as they do when not fasting.
Avoid late-night Parties
Ramadan’s nights are more expected to be dedicated to religious activities than daytime (and particularly the “Night of Destiny). Moreover, since breakfast in Ramadan is taken before dawn, most Muslims prefer to go to bed as early as possible. If your Muslim friend is unwilling to go out for long hours at night during Ramadan, do not press him to do so. The same precaution should be kept in mind before dialing a phone call at that hour.
When the Ramadan is over, one of the largest annual festivals of Islamic culture, Eid-al-Fitr, starts the very next day. It is common to visit relatives and friends during the Eid holidays, so you should also arrange some vacant time to visit your Muslim friend at home. The most common greeting used around the Muslim world for this occasion is “Eid Mubarak” (Arabic, pronouncing it as Eed Mobaarak). This is sure to come as a pleasant surprise from you!