Ramadan for a new Muslim can be a difficult time when it comes to explaining the whole concept of fasting to non-Muslims. If you are living with your non-Muslim family, and this can bring bigger challenges to the table literally.
Most of the time they will understand concepts like the prayer, wearing the hijab, not eating certain foods… Ramadan seems extreme.
So here are five practical tips on how to deal with non-Muslims during Ramadan:
1- Lots of Dua
This is the most important yet often neglected method. Make regular dua to God to make things easy for you and don’t be afraid to be specific.
2- Give Explanations That Non-Muslims Would Understand
Yes, we fast because it has been prescribed by God so that we may become pious. But non-Muslims may find that difficult to understand. You starve yourself to become pious?
Here are some useful things to say when asked why you are fasting:
- We fast to learn self-control
- We fast to experience the suffering of the poor.
- Did you know Moses and Jesus are recorded to have fasted (peace be upon them)?
- Did you know scientific organizations have released literature on health benefits of fasting – “Google Ramadan health guide”?
3- Be Considerate
Fasting and the other acts of worship make sense to you, which drive you to share this feeling with others. But remember, your non-Muslim family and friends don’t have the same belief as you, and find it difficult to understand. So take it easy with them. Have patience and be considerate.
4- Don’t Neglect Family Time
Living with non-Muslim family can be very tense and awkward during Ramadan, especially when it’s dinner time: “Do I hide in my bedroom and act like I can’t hear them calling me down or do I sit with them and not eat?”
Choosing any one of these will just prove to them how much you’ve changed since becoming a Muslim.
The ideal option would be if they change their meal times. But if this is unrealistic, here are four things you could try throughout the month:
- Read something from a book or the news to the family while they eat.
- Tell your family you are going to make dessert while they eat dinner. If you’ve never made dessert before, now is the time to learn.
- Take natural opportunities to be out during mealtime but not too often. For example, staying in the office to finish off some work or even taking the duty of doing the food shopping for that week.
- Makeup for missed meal times by spending quality time with them at other times in the day.
5- Become a Better Muslim in Ramadan
This Ramadan, show through your actions how Ramadan makes you a better person.
Here are 5 simple ways:
1- Smile. Even if you have no energy and dragging yourself through, smile.
2- Help with regular household chores: cooking, cleaning, the weekly shopping, and so on.
3- If you attend iftar meals, bring food back for your family to show you thought about them.
4- Be proactive in spending quality time with them and tell them about Islam.
5- Buy a small gift. What better reason do you need than ‘because it’s Ramadan’!