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Here are some ways you can show your support to your Muslim friends this month. IMAGE: UNSPLASH

Don't Worry, Can Still Makan Around Us: Other Ways You Can Support Your Muslim Friend During Ramadan

It’s roughly halfway through Ramadan and my body has more or less acclimatised to my fasting routine. From waking up early for breakfast at 4.30am to fasting without food and water for nearly 14 hours, it has been a challenging yet rewarding process.

I try to make it a point to not make such a big deal of it around my colleagues and non-Muslim friends, to the point that some may even not realise I’m abstaining from food and water.

I have to admit I’m highly amused when they get overly-conscious or apologetic when eating around me.

To be honest, it's really fine. But if you do want to show support to your Muslim friends who are observing this holy month, here are a few ways to foster understanding and compassion. 

While we can't do lunch dates, you're welcome to join us when we break our fast

So there I was in the middle of the day still glued to my work laptop while the rest of my colleagues were streaming out of the office for lunch.

One of them passed my desk, asking if I wanted to join her lunch gang. Barely a second passed before her face instantly flushed and she started apologising profusely for her absent-mindedness. Sounds familiar? đŸ˜„

To break the awkwardness, I will always respond with, “I can't join you for lunch, but I’m more than happy to invite you for dinner.” #smoothoperator 

Ramadan is a time when Muslims make an extra effort to come together. Breaking fast is typically a communal affair, whether it’s with family or friends. Most mosques in Singapore even offer daily breaking of fast meals, which are also open to non-Muslims. We’re more than happy to share the experience with others. 

While it's okay to eat around us, it might not be appropriate to ask why we might not be fasting 

This was always a common occurrence back in my school days. The boys will always tease each other for quietly stealing sips from the water cooler after a football game during recess.

There can be a multitude of reasons why people don’t fast. For example, Muslim women are exempted from fasting during their periods or when they are pregnant.

Other exemptions include during illness or travel. Ultimately, fasting is a personal choice based on your beliefs. So unless we bring it up ourselves, it would be respectful to refrain from pointing it out publicly.

IMAGES: INSTAGRAM/@WGEYLANGSERAI

While it's cool to visit the Ramadan Bazaars, prioritise your Muslim friends first who might be rushing to buy their break fast meals

The Ramadan Bazaars are back with a vengeance this month, with so many options to choose from throughout the island.

Expect full crowds and rows of sumptuous pasar malam food to satisfy you to your heart’s content. But while you’re excitedly queuing for that Ramly burger of Instagram-ing your latest gastronomical discovery, my suggestion would be to avoid these places at dusk.

Chances are you might be sharing a queue with someone who has been fasting all day and looking to tapau dinner for their entire family. So spare a thought for these peeps and let them settle their orders first.

You might not be familiar with the customs of Ramadan, but feel free to ask questions 

How do you calculate what time to break fast? Why do some Muslims go to the mosques in the evenings? Why does Ramadan take place in March when it was in April last year?

These are all valid questions. Don’t be embarrassed by your lack of knowledge because I’m sure most Muslims would be happy to welcome questions from their colleagues and friends.

I would argue that being open about Ramadan would help others be more understanding and flexible during this month when it comes to meetings or gatherings. I’m no religious cleric but if it’s something I can answer, I’m more than happy to help. For everything else, there’s Google.

IMAGE: 123RF

Ramadan is about charity as well so do consider donating and helping the needy during this time 

What about tangible ways to show your support to a Muslim friend? During the month of Ramadan, we’re highly encouraged to donate to charity and help the needy. In fact, giving alms is one of the main pillars of our religions. You can read all about it here.

Feel free to contribute as well this month as a way to show solidarity. I’m always inspired by how different people come up with creative ways to lend support to a cause they believe in. One guy I’ve written about even does fasted runs to raise funds and awareness during this period. So go forth and do some good this Ramadan!

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