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A Ramadan Etiquette Guide For Non-Muslims

Approximately 8 billion individuals inhabit the world, with roughly a quarter of them observing fasting rituals from sunrise to sunset every day for an entire month. This period is known as Ramadan, the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar, occurring from March 10 to April 9 in 2024.

For those who do not practice Islam but still wish to be thoughtful and considerate, is there anything they should keep in mind to avoid appearing insensitive to their fasting friends or work colleagues during Ramadan? Adhering to these 10 tips could earn you some brownie points:

Feel free to eat in our presence...
Throughout the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims worldwide refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset. However, this doesn't mean you need to alter your routine. (Simply overlook any sounds of a growling stomach emanating from us.)

...but consider avoiding scheduling a work lunch
If you must arrange a lunch meeting, feel free to do so. However, please understand if we opt to abstain, similar to a vegetarian friend at a steakhouse. The same goes for a happy-hour gathering; if your Muslim colleague declines, please understand their decision.

You're not obligated to fast with us...
You're welcome to join us in fasting if you're curious about the experience. However, it won't offend us if you don’t - even if we're close friends.

...but you're welcome to join us for Iftar
Iftar marks the breaking of the fast after sunset. It's typically a communal meal, and we'd love for you to join us.

You don't need to know its exact start date...
Unlike Christmas, Ramadan doesn't have a fixed date each year. It follows the Islamic lunar calendar, so its start depends on the sighting of the new moon. This variability is why the specific dates shift annually.

..but it's helpful to be understanding
The traditional method of determining the start of Ramadan involves physically sighting the moon, despite modern technological aids. So, if your colleague asks, "Can I start work early tomorrow to leave sooner?" it's appreciated if you can be accommodating.

We're happy to go out for coffee breaks
Whilst we can't indulge in drinks, including water, we're happy to accompany you for coffee if you need a break.

...but we might maintain some distance
One word explanation: Halitosis. Imagine refraining from eating or drinking all day. That's why we're keeping a mile away from you when we converse.

 You can wish us ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ …
There’s no controversy surrounding the greeting (it means “Happy Ramadan”). We will appreciate your thoughtfulness and desire to be inclusive.

….and last but not least, you're welcome to send us gifts.
Just like with Christmas, giving Ramadan Gifts & Ramadan Hampers is the norm between friends and family and is a big corporate gifting market.