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Ramadan etiquette

(faith leaders including UCA President Sharon Hollis at an Iftar dinner with Muslim friends)

Some will have received a formal invite to an Iftar (‘breaking of the fast’) meal. If you’d like to join with your Muslim neighbours in an Iftar meal, contact the mosque in your area or talk to Muslim friends.

The information below (adapted from an online article by Saeed Ahmed) provides a guide to non-Muslims about Ramadan and Iftar meals.

There are about 8 billion people in the world. And about a quarter of them are fasting from sunup to sundown. Every day. For an entire month. It’s Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. In 2023, it runs from March 22 to April 21.

Ramadan isn’t like Christmas, as in everyone knows exactly when it’ll fall. It bounces around, because the Islamic calendar is lunar. When it begins depends on when the new moon is seen. That’s why the precise dates change from year to year.

But what if you’re not a Muslim – just a caring, considerate person. Is there anything you should do so you don’t come across as insensitive to your fasting friends during Ramadan?

Short answer: No. Long answer: No. Here’s some tips…

  1. You can totally eat in front of Muslim people …
    For the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims around the world will abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry on business as usual.
    (… but try not to schedule a work lunch)
    Muslim people can’t drink, not even water, during daylight hours, so don’t invite people to join you for a cuppa during the day (but a walk would be fine).
  2. You don’t have to fast … (You can if you want – fasting is also part of our Christian/Lenten tradition)
  1. … but you can join the Muslim community in your area for Iftar, the breaking of the fast after sundown. It is a big communal meal. You would be a welcome guest.
  2. You can say ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ … (it means “Happy Ramadan”). Muslim people will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
  3. … please don’t say, ‘I should fast, too. I need to lose weight’. Ramadan’s not about that.

    Other reading of interest
    Making room for the divine: Our journey through Ramadan with Susan Carland and Saara Sabbagh on ABC (and links to other related articles).