“Not Even Water?” Ramadan FAQ
By: Nouha Elyazidi / Arab America Contributing Writer
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world observe a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan has great religious significance and is celebrated with great cultural traditions in the Muslim World. Muslims living in the West have an experience a little different compared to those living in the Muslim world. Living in Muslim minority countries, such as the US, there tend to be misconceptions about Ramadan and the practice of fasting. Many of these misconceptions come in the form of questions directed at Muslim-Americans; there is great value in addressing these questions and fostering respectful dialogue to motivate education about Islam and Muslims. Let’s discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about Ramadan.
Not Even Water!?
When Muslims explain the concept of fasting to someone unfamiliar with it, one of the most common questions posed -usually asked in a very shocked tone-is when you are fasting can you drink water? The answer to that question is no. When Muslims are fasting, we abstain from consuming food and drinking water. So yes, not even water.
Why do Muslims fast?
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims, for this is the month when God revealed the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). Ramadan teaches Muslims patience because fasting takes patience, it also is a way for us to feel for the less fortunate and be in constant remembrance of God.
Do All Muslims Have to Fast?
No, not everyone has to fast. There are individuals who are exempt from fasting. These individuals include those with medical conditions preventing them from fasting, women who are menstruating, those who are traveling, children before the age of puberty, the elderly, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Was Ramadan This Same Time Last Year?
The answer is no. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, meaning that Ramadan will be earlier and earlier every year.
Is it rude to eat in front of my Muslim friends?
This is a very considerate question! This depends on the person but most Muslims will not mind if you eat in front of them. It would be considerate to avoid asking your Muslim friends out to eat during the time they are fasting and make an effort to not flaunt your food, but most people who are fasting will have no issue with you eating.
Is Ramadan the Same Thing as the Intermittent Fasting Diet used to Lose Weight?
Technically, yes, Ramadan is intermittent fasting, but it is not a weight loss month for Muslims or anything like that. It is true that Ramadan has been linked to digestive health improvements and is a great body cleanse, but many Muslims actually end up gaining weight because of all the amazing food we eat when breaking our fast!
Is if okay if I fast among with my Muslim friends?
Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely! Non-Muslims are more than welcome to fast during the month of Ramadan. Fasting is such a kind way to support your Muslim friends.
What can I do as a nice gesture for my Muslim friends during Ramadan?
This is such a nice question, and Muslims really appreciate the thoughtful efforts from our non-Muslim friends. I will give you a few suggestions on ways to make your Muslim friends smile. One very simple thing would be to simply say “Ramadan Mubarak!” at the start of Ramadan. This translates to happy Ramadan and is a sweet way to wish your friends a happy holy month, but “happy Ramadan” is great too. Another idea would be to give them some food for iftar. Iftar is the meal we eat at sunset to break our fasts, and in Muslim majority countries, neighbors and friends will cook and share food with each other! A very nice gesture would be to bring your Muslim friends some food or dessert or something during iftar time. Another nice gesture would be to just ask how your fasting friends are doing, see if they need anything, and try to be considerate of their fasting.
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