The most sanctimonious month in the Muslim calendar is here. Everywhere in the world, devoted Muslims are fasting from the break of day to the setting of the sun. While Muslims have grown accustomed to not putting anything in their bellies for a whole month, many non-Muslims still find it difficult to comprehend. Out of the abundance of their caring heart, they try to make their fasting co-workers or friends feel comfortable or relaxed. And sometimes, they unintentionally come across as insensitive in their efforts to be kind or considerate.
If you don’t want your fasting co-workers to see you as a “tool of the devil”, desist from saying these 7 things to your Muslim co-workers during Ramadan:
“Should I get you some coffee or water to drink?”
Although this is not an insulting question, your Muslim co-workers have probably answered questions related to liquids more times than they can count. It’s tiring! They expect it to be a general knowledge that neither drink nor food goes down their throat during daytime. Don’t be scared for them, the multiple glasses of water they took before dawn should keep their body hydrated till dusk when they can have more water.
“Take a little bite, no one will know”
That’s just being devilish. Yea, you genuinely care about their health but making statements like that mocks the entire concept. Fasting is a sacrifice your Muslim friends make to appreciate God’s blessings and to grow stronger spiritually. Of course, anyone can eat in secret and pretend like they are fasting in the public. But it is between them and God, the reward for fasting comes from God. Ignore their growling stomach.
“I wish I can fast. I need to shed some fat”
Saying this to your Muslim co-workers strips the Ramadan season of its spirituality and makes it seem superficial. Sure, losing weight is a bonus that often comes with fasting but that’s not the reason behind Ramadan fasting. Besides, some Muslims tend to over-eat after sundown and instead of losing weight, they become obese.
“You’re starving yourself, not safe”
Dear caring Dr. Co-worker, your Muslim friends have probably been fasting since they were born and there they are, still alive and ‘healthy’. That remark is not only condescending, it is also wrong. Fasting, if done correctly, comes with numerous health benefits.
“Eating in your presence makes me feel bad”
No need to, envy or giving the ‘evil eye’ is against Muslim’s doctrines. Your fasting Muslim co-workers won’t yank your food out of your hand, don’t be scared. Fasting for Muslims is also a way to stay disciplined.
“Did you brush your teeth this morning?”
It’s halitosis. It happens when you don’t eat or drink frequently enough. Your co-worker has probably been avoiding having a conversation with you all day but then you got offended and pushed them to talk. And what did your loving but poking nose get? A foul smell. Try not to point it out, that’s embarrassing.
“Why aren’t you fasting?”
Fasting is a personal decision, don’t guilt trip your Muslim coworkers. Besides, your female Muslim friend may abstain from fasting because she’s on her period—it’s normal. There are many other reasons why a Muslim may not participate in the fast; it ranges from illness to travel.
Feel free to ask your Muslim co-workers why they are fasting, if they need any support or what they will be having for dinner. Be thoughtful, your Muslim co-workers will appreciate it. Ramadan Mubarak (happy Ramadan).