In Ramadan, a billion people will be fasting – sometimes for up to 20 hours – between sunrise and sunset. If you’re not fasting, here are a few tips that’ll earn you brownie points with your fasting friends and family.
DO: Go to an iftar your friend invites you to.
Traditionally, Iftar is a communal meal, which means that your presence is definitely welcome at the dining table. Dina El Selmy, a certified etiquette expert.
She advises guests to RSVP in advance so your hosts don’t have to scramble to cook at the last minute and to bring gifts that aren’t dates – chances are, your host already has a cupboard stuffed with the sweet fruit.
DO: Be considerate of prayer times during the workday.
Prayer is important to any Muslim as is – but it becomes especially important during Ramadan, a month when your connection to God is strongest. It’s important, particularly in a business context, to avoid scheduling meetings at noon as this is when prayer time usually is.
DO: Be understanding in social situations.
Your fasting friend will certainly come with you to a coffeehouse or bar – but understand that they probably won’t be getting anything to eat or drink.
DON’T: Assume people fast to lose weight.
According to Ahmed, fasting along with your friend to see what it feels like may be perfectly fine. However, he warns against saying things like “I should fast, too. I need to lose weight”. Ramadan is definitely not about getting slim for the summer.
DON’T: Be offended if your friend keeps their distance
A consequence of not eating or drinking the whole day? One word: Halitosis, or bad breath. It’s a common condition fasting people face, so if your friend talks to you from a foot away, don’t assume they’re mad at you.
DO: Share the message of Ramadan.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international protocol expert, insists in a Huffington Post article that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hosting your own iftar. “This provides an opportunity for both who are fasting and not fasting to get into the spirit of Ramadan… A company may also consider setting up a Ramadan donation system to feed the poor,” she adds.