During Ramadan, Muslims wake up well before dawn to eat the first meal of the day, which has to last until sunset. This means eating lots of high-protein foods and drinking as much water as possible right up until dawn, after which you can’t eat or drink anything. During the entire month, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. It is meant to be a time of spiritual discipline — of deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity and generosity, and intense study of the Quran. It’s a time of celebration and joy, to be spent with loved ones. At the end of Ramadan there’s a big three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. It’s kind of like the Muslim version of Christmas, in the sense that it’s a religious holiday where everyone comes together for big meals with family and friends, exchanges presents, and generally has a lovely time.
What can I do to be more respectful towards my Muslim friends?
There are things you can do, and not do, to make things a little easier for friends or colleagues who happen to be fasting for Ramadan. If you share an office with someone fasting, maybe eat your delicious, juicy cheeseburger in the office break room rather than at your desk.
Try to remember not to offer them a bite or a sip of what you’re eating, because it’s sometimes hard for us to remember that we’re fasting and easy to absentmindedly accept and eat that Lay’s potato chip you just offered us. But if you do, it’s okay, they’ll forgive you.
If you’re having a dinner party and you want to invite your Muslim friends, try to schedule it after sunset so they can eat.
If you want to wish your Muslim friends or acquaintances a happy Ramadan or happy Eid al-Fitr, you’re welcome to just say, “Happy Ramadan!” or “Happy Eid!” That’s not offensive or anything.