6 Things Non Muslims May Not Know About Ramadan
Courtesy of aboutislam.net
Dear non-Muslim family members, coworkers, and classmates,
The month of fasting for Muslims known as Ramadan is coming soon. And while your Muslim acquaintances are limbering up for the fast, you may be having a hard time wrapping your mind around what Ramadan is even about.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast from the time before the sun peeks over the horizon to the time the sun dips below the horizon. It’s not a complete fast all day and night for 30 entire days.
Food and drink is consumed during the hours when the sun is not up. And most Muslims celebrate the breaking of the fast each day with loved ones in a meal called iftar.
No, Not Even Water
Ramadan is Not about being Hungry/Thirsty/Tired
For Muslims, Ramadan is a time to examine who they are on a base level and improve themselves.
Spiritual growth is the main idea for the month of fasting. It’s a time to build character, spirituality, and discipline. It’s cleansing for both the body and the soul.
If a Muslim is just going hungry or thirsty or tired and does not include introspection and spiritual growth as a part of the month, their fast is a waste of time.
Ramadan is like a yearly overhaul or spring-cleaning for the body and the soul (even though it doesn’t always happen in Spring). Muslims must get rid of their bad habits, reorganize, and start fresh with a clean slate.
Fasting is Not Detrimental to Your Health
Many non-Muslims who are confronted with the thought of a 30 day fast come to the conclusion that it must be unhealthy. This is no surprise in a society that has a very close relationship with food.
We in the West have convinced ourselves that we need so much more food that our bodies actually require. The fact of this is evidenced by the obesity epidemic. And scientists agree that fasting is not only not detrimental to the health of a healthy adult, but it is actually beneficial.
According to Live Science, “The most common eating pattern in modern societies of three meals daily, plus snacks, is abnormal from the perspective of human evolution.”
And scientists have found that “intermittent fasting helps the body to rejuvenate and repair, thereby promoting overall health.”
Not Everyone can Fast
This is a big question on many non-Muslims minds: do sick people or even children have to fast?
The answer is no.
Only adult Muslims of good health may fast. Children and elderly people are not required to fast since it may be detrimental to their growth or health, respectively.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have the option not to fast since their bodies are already being taxed.
Women who are menstruating do not fast since, again, they are already dealing with demands on their bodies.
People who have chronic health problems that fasting would exacerbate are not allowed to fast.
People who come down with a serious, acute illness during the month are not allowed to fast.
And people who are travelling have the option to fast or not to fast.
The purpose of fasting should not be to harm oneself. And if there is a likelihood that fasting will do serious harm, that Muslim is exempt from it. But don’t congratulate Muslims who cannot fast because many feel intense grief over not being able to participate in the fast of Ramadan.
summer months while another gets to fast in the shorter and cooler days of the fall and winter months.
For Muslims, Ramadan is a time to reconnect with faith and community. It is a time to improve oneself. It is a time of significant growth.
Ramadan can make one more grateful, charitable, patient, and disciplined. Fasting is hard but nothing worth doing is ever easy.
If you wish to support your coworker, classmate, friend or family member during the month of Ramadan, congratulate them on the month.
For those who are more adventurous, ask if you can fast alongside them to see what it is like.
You never know, you might get something out of it.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive)