In this op-ed, Muslim journalist Sarah Hagi writes about proper etiquette for non-Muslims during Ramadan.
Here are some “pro” tips:
Don’t ask why someone’s not fasting
There are so many reasons why observant Muslims can’t or don’t fast. Illness, pregnancy, old age, menstruation—all very personal things to talk about depending on the person. But most important, it’s none of your business whether or not someone is fasting.
Don’t be weird about eating
A huge part of fasting is knowing the world doesn’t stop for you, nobody is expecting special treatment (though being mindful is nice,) we still go to work and go about our daily lives. Ramadan isn’t supposed to be easy, that’s the whole point. If you’re unsure as to how to accommodate a Muslim guest while fasting there are plenty of ways to make someone feel welcome without offering food. One summer, my best friend put a cold towel in her freezer for me to cool off rather than offering me a glass of water. It was one of the most kind and thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me.
Be thoughtful about your questions
Every Ramadan, usually around the beginning, non-Muslims will ask me (or rather, exclaim) “Not even water?!” The question itself is so widespread, it’s become a sort of in-joke with Muslims… Don’t ask questions that require the tiniest bit of research to figure out.
Ramadan is a great opportunity to learn about a misunderstood group of people, take advantage of that
Many community centers or groups also love getting non-Muslims involved in Ramadan festivities. If you’re a student, your local Muslim student association likely has information nights or communal dinners in the evening.
Don’t explain Ramadan to Muslims, regardless of what you know
There are better ways to show you took an Eastern Religions course freshman year than telling someone about their own religion and customs. Take our word for it.