7 Things to Keep in Mind When Spending Time with Someone Observing Ramadan

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The 9th month in the Islamic calendar is considered a holy month; it is the time when Muslims around the world observe Ramadan. The observance revolves around the idea of restraint (akin to Lent or Yom Kippur), and it is most typically observed by fasting during daylight hours and feasting (or just eating) at night.

Most practicing Muslims abstain from food, water, sex, smoking, fighting, and more between sunrise and sunset as a way to engage their discipline, remind themselves to be grateful for what they have, and to feel closer to Allah.

If you know someone or work with someone or casually come across someone participating during Ramadan, here are 7 things you shouldn’t do or say (because they’re probably really, really tired of hearing them).

#7. Respect their privacy.

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If you know someone who is Muslim and tucking into food during Ramadan, don’t pry. There are medical and other personal reasons that could force someone to observe in other ways, and they’re likely none of your business.

#6. Don’t joke about it being a chance to lose weight.

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Their time of spiritual reflection isn’t a crash diet plan, and also they eat a hearty iftar to break their fast at sundown each night, sooooo. Just don’t.

#5. Be mindful of their lagging energy.

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They may have to tweak their schedules during the month to allow for more rest, or may prefer to stay indoors to avoid overheating without enough liquid. Don’t be offended if they turn down your usual racquetball game – I’m sure they’ll make it up later.

#4. It’s not “Happy Ramadan!”

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If you want to be respectful of their observance, try “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem,” which are both traditional ways to wish someone blessings during the holy month.

#3. You can eat your own food.

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Ramadan is all about sacrifice and self-discipline, and Muslims are aware that part of that is watching other people enjoy their food and drink. If you want to be helpful, avoid scheduling meetings or celebratory dinners that would normally include your Muslim colleagues during the month.

#2. Don’t offer food if they seem distressed.

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Fasting can cause mild fatigue, dehydration, and dizziness, but Muslims who observe are aware and prepared for any side effects they might feel during the day.

#1. Similarly, don’t obsess over what they’re missing.

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If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know how hard it can be to avoid the foods you normally love – and having people remind you about it (or in this case, how many hours until sundown) certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

The more you know!