7 simple ways to support Muslims in Ramadan
7 simple ways to support Muslims in Ramadan.
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7 simple ways to support Muslims in Ramadan

The most spiritually uplifting tradition and ritual practice Muslims enjoy is Ramadan. While there are many resources for Muslims on how to effectively plan for Ramadan, there isn’t as much information out there for well-meaning non-muslims on how to support Muslims in Ramadan. 

For our non-Muslim community that wish to support their Muslim counterparts but are not entirely sure how to do this, this article provides seven tips to get you started.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the month Muslims fast (abstain from food and water) from pre-dawn to dusk over a period of 29/30 days. Depending on the time of the year and their location, a fast may last as long as eight or sixteen hours (consider for instance, sunrise and sunset times for an European country during the winter versus the summer).

Fasting in Ramadan, called Sawm, is a pillar of Islam. For many Muslims ,it is not just abstinence from food and water but a spiritual journey to Allah. It also fosters a sense of community with both close relations and Muslims worldwide. Sadly, many Muslims do not get the support they deserve as they navigate predominantly non-Muslim spaces (workplaces, schools, associations etc.). This, sometimes, could be attributed to a lack of knowledge about the month and what Muslims seek to achieve. 

In this regard, we are sharing with you some simple and easy ways through which you can support Muslims in Ramadan.

1. Be considerate in assigning tasks and making schedules during Ramadan

Fasting requires a change in routine due to the many activities Muslims engage in. These include observing late night prayers, congregating for sermons/lectures, joining charitable activities and having to wake up at the crack of dawn, amongst others, often means that regular day-to-day schedules are disrupted and maintaining a normal work schedule is often difficult. If your organization can allow for flexible work schedules, make this option readily available for Muslims in Ramadan. This way, they can schedule their work activities around their productive hours and leave room for spiritual activities. 

Further, Muslim employees who would like to take their leave in Ramadan should be allowed to do so. Ramadan can be demanding time for Muslims, especially for those who wish to take full advantage of the month. Some Muslims like to seclude themselves especially during the last ten days in a practice called ihtikaf. They spend their days in worship and remembrance of Allah. Hence, taking a leave at this time will be truly beneficial.

Again, Muslims may be tired and hungry especially during late afternoons in Ramadan. Please be considerate when assigning tasks that require a lot of energy like speaking for long, managing heavy loads of work etc. If there are other individuals who can perform these tasks, it would be highly appreciated if you reassigned them. 

Please check in with your Muslim colleagues when making plans. This will ensure that meetings are not scheduled for prayer times and new work schedules they have made due to Ramadan.

Many Muslims go the extra mile in Ramadan to ensure that the fast does not interfere in any way with their work activities. Even the smallest of considerations can go a long way to making life better during this month.

2. Avoid Mocking Muslims for their Ramadan practices.

We often tend to ridicule things we do not understand and religion, Islam included, has borne the brunt of much mockery. Muslims are often at the receiving end of jeering comments meant to belittle our faith.

One of my rather unsavoury and dare I say, irritating experiences during Ramadan, both as a student and employee, is having people mock the fast and then try to make light of their mockery. Some colleagues would make fun of the fact that Muslims wake up at dawn to eat a meal (sahur) before fasting begins. They would go as far as calling it “fake fasting”. Try as I might to explain things, they would persist in their stance. Different faiths are practised in their own unique ways and it is simply disrespectful to argue with or mock Muslims for eating at dawn for Ramadan. 

Additionally, because Ramadan begins and ends with the citing of the moon. This may create a difference in start dates for Muslims. This should not be used to mock Muslim friends or colleagues. Rather, simply say “I have observed a difference in start dates for Ramadan, what is the reason? “. It is important to desist from insulting Islam (other religions) and Muslims (worshippers) efforts to practice their faith. If you are genuinely interested in learning about Muslims and Ramadan, talk to Muslims.

3. Do not judge Muslims making an effort during Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month like no other and during this time, Muslims all over strive to be better.  Muslim women may start wearing modest clothes or cover their hair during this month. Muslims who engage in religiously non-conforming behavior may put a hold on these behaviors or completely quit. Please do not ask them about it or call them “Ramadan Muslims”. Every Muslim becomes better at their efforts to practice Islam in Ramadan.

Similarly, due to health conditions, some Muslims may not fast the entire period or only fast some days. Muslims who struggle with certain health conditions and menstruating women are not allowed to fast. Quizzing them about it would be uncomfortable. Please do not treat them differently from other Muslim colleagues or friends who are observing the fast. 

4. Allow Muslim students to observe Ramadan in school.

It is simply disheartening that Muslims in many parts of the world have to fight for a basic right to practice their religion. In many places like Ghana, female Muslim students are not allowed to wear the hijab, observe the five daily prayers or even fast in Ramadan.

My experience of Ramadan in high school as a boarding student is not pleasant. My school did not make provisions for Muslims to fast and our personal efforts to mobilize was also constrained by “school rules”. We shared the little we had in our personal food boxes for our sahur (dawn meal) since we were not allowed to store dining hall food. We then advocated for our food to be stored for us by the school which resulted in a humiliating experience. Our dining hall prefect assisted for a few days before that option was also shot down. As we were dealing with this disappointment, we were forced to sit in the dining hall during meals though we informed authorities that we were fasting the month. 

This is simply unacceptable and should not be happening. These negative experiences are unhealthy and go to mar our relationship with non-Muslims. A simple adjustment and support would have gone a long way to make the school experience a lot better.

For these reasons, we need non-Muslims to support a basic human right and understand that Muslims are not a threat. School authorities and other stakeholders should be kind and supportive of their Muslim students. Undoubtedly, there are individuals and organizations that provide this support.

4. Support Muslim charity organizations

One of the lessons learnt during Ramadan by staying away from food and drinks, is that it creates more empathetic individuals who like to give endlessly. Muslims are advised to share their food and resources with one another. They do this personally or through Muslim organizations.

There are many charitable Muslim organizations that provide food and other supplies to the needy. Some organizations in Ghana are Islamic Ummah Relief, Sadaqa Train, Sisters’ hangout and many you can find with a simple Facebook search. You can support these organizations by volunteering with them in any capacity or by donating your resources.

Muslims are heavy consumers of groceries and food supplies, internet, clothing etc with a peak in the period of Ramadan. The least businesses or big corporations can do to support Muslims is to channel their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) activities to Muslim communities and not just limit themselves to seasons greetings.

These tips provide helpful ways to support the Muslim community. However, just like any group, Muslims are not a monolith and all these may not apply to every Muslim. It is always important to get to know the individual or group of people you plan to support.

If you would like more information, download our Ramadan information pack!

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