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December 11, 2022
Ramadan... what's that?
You can't eat all day...why? Seriously...not even water?!!
Why is it that questions like these from our kids, or worse still, from our coworkers, leave us stuttering and tongue tied. Well, we put together these handy tips for precisely those awkward moments when you feel like blurting out whatever is on top of your mind might be the simplest answer.
The first thing to assess is who's asking. Of course the answer will be different if it's your boss than your child. But in both cases it is best to keep it simple.
When it comes from a child, you can be certain it is because they are genuinely interested. Most children want to imitate those they love. They’ve seen how their parents behave differently during Ramadan and they want to know why.
It’s worth remembering that Ramadan can be very disorientating to a young child. The household routine is completely overturned, Mom and Dad are more tired, and for a whole month they pray all day and maybe aren't as attentive...even the food changes! Instead of the excitement we feel as parents, this disruption in routine may actually lead to unnecessary stress and unease for our children. That is why it is so important to explain the essence of Ramadan to our children as soon as they are able to understand. Through effective communication, we can explain why we are fasting and why it matters. Let’s nurture a love for Ramadan in their hearts and deepen their connection to this Blessed month.
The same principle also applies when explaining Ramadan to your non-Muslim colleagues at work. Consider, why are they asking? It may be that they know very little about Ramadan, or even Islam, and want to know more. Alternatively, they may just be making conversation! Try to ascertain what their motivation is for asking, and adjust your response accordingly.
If you can overcome the initial awkwardness, explaining to them why you are fasting and what it means, will help them to feel a connection with what you are doing, and make it easier for you in the workplace. Once people understand what you can and cannot do, and understand why, the whole month will run a lot more smoothly for you insha’Allah.
Do not use their polite questions as an opportunity to give them a long lecture in the hope of doing Dawah! Too much information can turn people off altogether.
It’s not just WHAT you say that matters…but HOW you say it!
Whether you are talking about Ramadan to your children, or your boss, here are the tips you need to remember:
Keep it Simple
Don’t over-complicate things by dwelling on the rules; what you can and cannot do. You don’t need to explain the lunar calendar, the timings of the fast or other particulars. Instead talk to them at a level they will understand and appreciate.
Keep it Positive
It is so important to emphasise the benefits of fasting. Whether you are talking to young children, or to your colleagues at work. Keep it positive.
For example, instead of saying, “I CAN’T eat or drink ANYTHING from the true dawn, to just after sunset.”
Say, “I WILL not be eating or drinking during daylight hours.”
Do you see the difference?
Can you hear how one response comes across as negative and confusing, whilst the other is upbeat and confident.
How about this situation;
“Why do you fast?”
Do you say, “Because it says I HAVE TO in the Quran,”
“Because IT HELPS ME to become a better person”?
O you who believe! Observing al-sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqûn (the pious).” (2:183)
You get the idea! Both answers are correct, but you need to assess who you are talking to, and which answer would be most beneficial to them.
Depending on the personality and interests of your child (or colleague), you may wish to give greater emphasis to different aspects of the Ramadan.
Key Benefits to emphasize:
Through experiencing hunger and thirst, fasting teaches us to empathize with those in the world who have little to eat day after day.
-Fasting is done solely for Allah. It is a way that we worship and show our servitude to Him.
-Through this increased devotion, Muslims feel closer to their Creator, and recognize that everything we have in this life is a blessing from Him.
-Ramadan is the Islamic month during which the Quran was revealed. Fasting in this month is one of the five pillars of Islam that shape the lives of Muslims.
-It is a time for us to become closer to God, through reciting the Quran and contemplating its meaning.
It is possible to ‘cheat’ and break your fast before the time. However by remembering that Allah knows everything, it teaches us to be honest.
Fasting is an exercise in self-discipline. To stay away from food is just a part of it. Staying away from bad deeds requires considerable control and strictness with oneself.
Fasting, Sawm in Arabic, literally means ‘refrain’.
We must not only fast with our stomachs (refrain from food and water), but with our tongues (refrain from backbiting and gossip), our eyes (refrain from looking at inappropriate images), our ears (refrain from listening to gossip or obscene words), our feet (refrain from going to inappropriate places).
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) is reported to have said, ”Fasting will intercede for a person on the Day of Judgment, and will say, “O Lord, I prevented him from his food and physical desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.” (Ahmad).
Through increased charity during this month, Muslims develop feelings of generosity and good-will toward others.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said, “A man’s wealth is never diminished by charity.”
It is a time during which we make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends and do away with bad habits – it’s essentially a spring clean for both the body and soul!