In just a few weeks, Muslims across the globe will be observing the holy month of Ramadan, which begins with the sighting of the crescent moon. Ramadan is every Muslim’s favorite month and holds great significance in the hearts of Muslims everywhere. It gives us the opportunity to escape from the overly fast pace of the life we live in today’s world and dedicate ourselves to a higher cause; reverence of Allah (SWT).

It was in the month of Ramadan that Allah (SWT) revealed His words to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); the words that made up the Holy Quran. Observing the month of Ramadan is more than just fasting from dawn to dusk, it is the observation of something much deeper. It is finding and discovering our best possible selves through deprivation of worldly and humanly needs, in order to attain a purer and a more cleansed sense of self.

The purpose of fasting is not only spiritual but social as well. Muslims fast for this whole month as a means to practice discipline and self-restraint and as a means to grow closer to Allah (SWT) and His creation. It reminds us of our reliance on Allah (SWT) for all things and the weak nature of man. Moreover, fasting also serves as a means to awaken compassion in the believer, where one is made to realize the difficulty, deprivation, and trials poor people go through every single day. It awakens the conscience and reminds us of how very magnanimous Allah (SWT) has been to us. It stirs a sense of endless gratitude in the heart of the believer and drives him to help those in need and those less fortunate. Hence, charity is one of the main components of Ramadan as well.

So what can one do to be respectful of our fellow Muslims during the sacred month of Ramadan? Here are a few pointers.

Know the core basics of Ramadan

Ramadan is expected to start on 27th of May 2017. The act of fasting in the month of Ramadan makes up one of the five pillars of Islam- the other four being the shahadah, zakat (charity), salah and Hajj. These are the five fundamentals of being a true practicing Muslim. So you can imagine the importance given to each of these. However, Islam is not unreasonable and there are exceptions for those who are not able to fast, for example, those who are either sick, pregnant, traveling, on their monthly period are all exempted. People of old age and children are exempted as well.

Ramadan is not a monthly diet plan

The purpose of fasting is not to take a detox diet, it is something much more. Fasting means refraining from eating, drinking or engaging in any kinds of sexual activity from dawn will dusk for a higher purpose of pleasing Allah (SWT). Moreover, the act of fasting extends to a spiritual level as well, whereby Muslims have to curtail their anger, jealousy, and self-interests. Muslims are to engage in good deeds and worship throughout the month and abstain from negativity and evil acts.

Be patient with your fellow Muslims in this month

The month of Ramadan generally leads to a slower pace of functionality amongst Muslims. A combination of low energy and restraint might lead to occasional impatience and laziness. We do our best to give it all we can to our work but sometimes the fasting routine catches up to us too. So be patient and give your Muslim friends some margin; let the small things slide. Be assured, that you will gain the gratitude of your fellow Muslim brethren.

Greet each other

One thing that will uplift your Muslim friend’s mood is a Ramadan greeting. Feel free to go up to them and say “Ramadan Mubarak!” (Have a blessed Ramadan) or “Happy Ramadan Kareem!” (Have a generous Ramadan). It will surely make the person’s day.

Ramadan is fun for Muslims

Fasting in this month is far from unpleasant; it is something all Muslims look forward to. There is no compulsion, Muslims fast on a voluntary basis. There is a certain sense of peace and joy we attain from the whole spirit of Ramadan and dedicating ourselves to our Lord. For Muslims, it is a celebration with loved ones. The month ends with the celebration of “Eid-ul-Fitr” where all Muslims come together to rejoice at the successful completion of Ramadan and have food and festivities with their loved ones. It’s a month laden with a certain sense of solidarity and comradeship with fellow Muslims around the world, who engage in fasting and good deeds for a common purpose.

If you are not fasting yourself, be considerate of those who are

If, for whatever reason, you are not fasting, be kind and considerate to your fellow Muslims who are fasting around you. Take care to not eat or drink in front of them or offer them food, which may make their fast a bit difficult. There is nothing wrong with eating or drinking if you are not fasting, given that you have a valid reason. But just be mindful of those around you and try not to make things hard for the fasting Muslims around you.

The holy month of Ramadan is all about awakening a sense of community, brotherhood, compassions and charity among people. It is about reconnecting with Allah (SWT) and His beautiful creation. It is about taking the means that Allah (SWT) has blessed you with and using them to help the poor and those in need. It is about being endlessly grateful for all the blessings and sustenance Allah (SWT) has bestowed us with. It is a joyous and sacred occasion for every human, not just Muslims, to revisit our spiritual roots and reflect. It is a month of changing for the better and doing it out of love for our Creator and Sustainer.

The author

Amna Anwaar