Ramadan started last night. This is a special month-long holiday. While you do not need to celebrate it (I don’t), I believe you should be mindful, especially if you know someone who may celebrate.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is one of the most holy months of the Islamic calendar year. It is a Muslim religious observance, believed to be the time when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah.
There are Five Pillars of Islam, and fasting through Ramadan is one of them. With the exception of illnesses, diabetes, pregnancy, and other health issues, it’s an obligatory thing. Muslims are expected to fast from all food and drink, water too, from dawn until sunset every day during the month. And because we are entering summer months, they’ll be fasting, approximately, from 5 am to 9 pm–16 hours! At night, the fast is broken with a communal meal.
During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to pray, read the Quran daily, and give to charities. They are meant to abstain from foul speech, gossip, smoking, engaging in sexual relations, and fighting. The fasting, as well as the praying, reading, doing good, etc., is meant to promote self-discipline and bring you closer to God.
Now, why do I care? What does it matter if I do not celebrate it?
When I was in the seventh grade (Year 8, for my UK friends), I had a friend who came from Pakistan. She and her family were faithful Muslims. One day, I went back to the classroom in need of something when I saw a familiar hijab in the room. My friend was reading, alone and without food. I offered lunch, but she was fasting. This is when I first learned about Ramadan. I didn’t understand at first; it took a hot minute for me to grasp what it was. And at the end, she invited me to Eid Al-Fatur, their celebration the day after the last day of Ramadan.
Even if you don’t celebrate/aren’t part of their religion, be respectful. Don’t belittle their efforts or mock their tradition. And if you see/know Muslims using this time (until 4 June, I think?), don’t force food or water in their direction. You don’t need to make fun of a religious time just because you don’t understand it.
Have a blessed Ramadan.