A celebration that brings people together. Source: The Estate KL
- Discover the true purpose behind fasting
- Ramadan is also about forgiveness and almsgiving
- What you may see as kindness may be discouraged by your Muslim friends
You know Ramadan is around the corner when you start hearing the whispers of “…Yusuf Taiyoob” on the radio.
As a non-muslim, when I think of Ramadan, I think of the week-long school holidays that come along with it, but that was at least 5 years ago. Not to mention the open houses with all the delicious Hari Raya food (thankfully, I still get to have these).
Recently, I had a chat with one of my Muslim friends, whicht made me realise that Ramadan has so much more to it. As non-Muslims, we don’t see the true meanings and purposes behind it. That’s when I decided to share this amazing conversation that I had, hoping to spread the true beauty of Ramadan to other non-Muslims out there and break some of the usual stereotypes this season of celebration receives.
A devotion to kindness. Source: Yaqeen Institute
It is more than just fasting.
From a Muslim perspective, Ramadan is considered a time of spiritual reflection and devotion. It is a time for them to make an effort to improve their relationship with The Almighty Allah (SWT) through various means.
The most popular one is fasting. Fasting is a way for Muslims to purify their minds, bodies, and souls. By abstaining from food and drinks, they learn to appreciate their blessings and become more grateful for the things they have in their lives. It also helps to develop empathy for those who are less fortunate and encourages Muslims to practice acts of charity.
Other than fasting, they would also abstain from behaviour such as lying, gossiping, and backbiting. It is a time for self-discipline and self-control. Seems like something we all should be practising, don’t you think?
Bonding with your loved ones. Source: mashed
One aspect of Ramadan that I’ve never really realised is that it is also a time for family and the community. Muslims typically break their fast together as a family or with friends and neighbours. Although you probably already knew this, did you know that there’s a meaning behind it?
This practice of breaking fast together is known as Iftar and is a way for Muslims to strengthen relationships with their loved ones and community members. Breaking of the fast at sunset is a time for families to thank Allah (SWT), unite, and communities to bond.
After learning about this, I couldn’t help but think of our ‘abang riders’ who had to break their fast alone during the days of MCO. I’m pretty sure that many others who have to break their fasts alone. I used to think that breaking fast was mandatory after sunset, so they have to break it at least with some light food before having a good meal with their families at home. Now, I empathise with their struggles.
Forgiving and seeking forgiveness. Source: Traworld
Forgiveness and reconciliation are also one of the fundamentals of Ramadan. Muslims are encouraged to seek forgiveness from Allah for their past sins and to forgive others who may have wronged them. This is where the famous Hari Raya line “maaf Zahir dan Batin” comes in, which means asking for forgiveness physically and emotionally for intentional or unintentional wrongdoings.
The view from outside
From a non-Muslim perspective, Ramadan may be seen as a time of inconvenience or restriction. Many may wonder why Muslims would voluntarily choose to go without food and drink for an entire month.
It is important to understand that fasting during Ramadan is a personal choice and a religious obligation for Muslims. Fasting is not meant to be harmful to one’s health and there are exceptions for those who are unable to fast, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those who are ill.
Breaking the walls and being there for one another. Source: iStock
To my surprise, my Muslim friend mentioned that pitying a Muslim during their fasting period is discouraged. Although we may feel bad for our Muslim friends during this time, they don’t wish to be pitied or excluded from the usual daily activities.
This is because, from their perspective, fasting helps them experience the lives of the unfortunate who have to carry on with their daily tasks without food on their plates most of the time. Not fully immersing into that lifestyle may defeat the purpose of their abstinence.
I’m glad I had this eye-opening conversation about Ramadan with my friend. I’m all about spreading kindness, whichhelps me become a better friend to my Muslim friends and the community. I hope this sharing was helpful to you as well!
Quick fun fact; “…Yusuf Taiyoob” has always made me wonder why dates are so popular during Ramadan. It’s actually because it’s believed that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) loved breaking his fast with them. Therefore, Muslims around the world have taken this up as a way of adopting his practices.
Hope everyone has a safe and blessed Ramadan. Selamat Hari Raya to all celebrating! Maaf Zahir dan Batin.
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