A MINDFUL RAMADAN
Making conscious decisions
By Agnes Aui
Ramadan, also spelled Ramazan or Ramathan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayers and reflection. As a commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation, the annual observance of fasting in Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts for 29 to 30 days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next. Fasting from sunrise to sunset is obligatory for all adult Muslims, except for particular reasons that pertain to health. As fasting during Ramadan is widely practiced in Malaysia, being mindful during this time is exceptionally important for those of us who aren’t fasting. Despite the fact that our Muslim brothers and sisters do not usually mind when we eat while they fast, it’s still important to be mindful to show the beauty of Malaysia’s multiracial community that respects and loves one another. Which is why this month, we’re curating a list of how you can make conscious decisions throughout Ramadan for our Muslim brothers and sisters:
#1 ORDER FOOD IN ADVANCE
Whether it’d be fasting month or not, food delivery is still very much used throughout the day. And for our Muslim delivery food riders, breaking fast at home with their families may be a challenge as the time to break fast is also the time many of us are about to have dinner with our own families, which is when most of us would be ordering from delivery apps. If you’ve ever ordered through delivery apps, you’ll notice that it takes roughly 30 minutes to an hour for your order to arrive, especially in the evening. As a conscious decision, try ordering your food in advance. Of course, ordering for dinner at lunch time is a little too early. But ordering it at 4pm or 5pm can be helpful for delivery food riders as they will be able to send your order and head back home to break fast with their respective families. And you may not feel it but this little act of kindness goes a long way.
#2 BE MINDFUL WHEN TALKING ABOUT FOOD OR EATERIES DURING THE DAY
As non-Muslims, we sometimes forget about the fasting month and being in Malaysia, most of our ice-breaking conversations revolve around food. The simplest topic to talk about sometimes is “have you had your breakfast?”, which is something I personally did when hopping into my Grab during the fasting month last year. After the realisation that my Grab driver was fasting, I apologised and decided to be more conscious of what I say during Ramadan, especially about food. Although they don’t take the honest mistake to heart, it’s still important to be mindful when talking about food or eateries in their presence. Unless they ask for food or eatery recommendations, what we could do is to possibly ask if they mind that you’re discussing food topics before proceeding to talk to them about it.
#3 AVOID EATING OR DRINKING IN FRONT OF THEM
Typically our Muslim brothers and sisters would not mind us eating or drinking in front of them. But as a sign of respect and courtesy, we can try to avoid doing so, unless we’re unable to. When being conscious and mindful, it’s all about empathy and putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. So when the fasting month comes, try to imagine if you were the one fasting throughout the day. With the long hours and the Malaysian heat, it’s easy to be tempted to drink some water, especially after seeing your friends do so. Which is why if we could help, even if it’s a little gesture, we should try. And by being mindful of the heaty weather, we can try to avoid drinking or eating in front of them, which we’re sure would be greatly appreciated.
#4 DINE-IN EARLIER OR DINE-IN TOGETHER
During Ramadan, many Muslim families tend to eat out rather than cook at home as cooking takes time and energy. And when it comes to breaking fast, restaurants and eateries tend to be more packed than usual. Therefore, as non-Muslims who aren’t fasting, sometimes a little gesture such as eating before iftar can help make space for those who are breaking fast. However, if you happen to be at the restaurant about 10 minutes or less before your Muslim brothers and sisters break fast, and the restaurant happens to have extra space, you can opt to wait till the prayer and eat at the same time as them. This gesture shows that you care about them and even helps to strengthen the bond we have with each other. Truly, it shows the harmonious life that Malaysians have.