14 Things You Don't Need To Say This Ramadan
Ramadan Kareem everyone! For those of you not fasting for this upcoming beautiful month, you’ve come to the right place. Teaching While Muslim wants to take the time to clear up any common misunderstandings people have about Ramadan. I apologize in advance for any sassiness - y’all need to understand that we’ve been hearing these comments for years and we would love to clear them up once and for all.
1. "Not even water?"
Nope. Not even water. Let us use this as an opportunity to explain the very general basics of Ramadan. Muslims fast from dawn (fajr) to dusk (maghrib). This means no food, water, cursing (which you’ll see is very difficult once you get to the end of this list), gossiping, etc. It is a month about growing closer to God and focusing on things like prayer, reading Qur’an, charity, etc.
2. "Isn’t that unhealthy?"
Please do not compare Ramadan to the very real struggle people have with eating disorders. And since Muslims believe in reason and logic, please take the time to read about the health benefits of fasting whether you are Muslim or not. Ramadan is about self-discipline, spiritual growth, and just becoming a more thoughtful human. And most importantly, Muslims are exempt from fasting if it interferes with their health for any reason.
3. "What about gum? That's not food!"
Gum makes you hungrier. And also, no.
4. "You don’t eat or drink for 30 days?!"
See number 1. Dawn to dusk y’all.
5. "I’m so sorry"
When people look at Ramadan as an oppressive month about starvation it puts us on the defensive and perpetuates a colonizing narrative about Muslim faith. We’re good. I won’t speak for all Muslims here, but I think I can safely say it’s a month we are intended to look forward to. I always tell my students it’s my favorite month of the year - and I mean it.
6. "Will you be offended if I eat in front of you?"
No. I made a choice to fast and I’m okay. Nobody wants your egg salad sandwich anyway. But if you’re about to heat up some Chinese food, definitely give me a heads up. I’m only human.
7. "What happens if you eat?"
Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe I’ll be dragged down to hell if I can’t fast one day or if I accidentally reach into my snack drawer at work because I’m on autopilot and have little self-awareness when it comes to twix bars. It happens. Ramadan isn’t about magically becoming a perfect human being overnight. We try our best to grow and learn every day.
8. "Does that mean you don't Brush your teeth?"
Do you want me to come to work without brushing my teeth? I didn’t think so. The mililiter (I’m a history teacher I don’t know) of water that stays in my mouth after I brush my teeth is neither going to quench my thirst or break my fast. I’ll keep my toothpaste and mouthwash. You’re welcome.
9. "Do you just eat all night?"
Honestly, you start to get full easier and easier as Ramadan goes on. While it might be tempting to just stuff our faces after maghrib, a lot of Muslims also head to the mosque after they break their fast or read Qur’an or go to bed because we still have to try our best to keep our energy up at work the next day.
10. "You must lose so much weight!"
Everyone’s body reacts differently to fasting. Some people gain weight, some lose weight, some stay the same. Regardless, Ramadan is not about extreme dieting or starvation. See #5 and #2.
11. "Nobody’s watching... why don’t you just eat?"
We’re not fasting because our mom made us. Ramadan is about individual growth. By the same token, Muslims who are not fasting for whatever reason shouldn’t be shamed as being bad Muslims. It’s hard. And everyone’s journey is different. Don’t stress out your friends, colleagues, random strangers by calling them out if they’re not fasting. You don’t know what’s going on in their life.
12. "What if you’re about to pass out? Can we give you water?"
If my fasting reaches a point that it is impeding my health, yes, I will drink water. But seriously, don’t worry about it. I got this. You can safely assume that any human that has fainted will need water.
13. "Why are you eating? Isn’t it Ramadan?"
If I’m not fasting, please don’t shout it to the whole universe unless you’re prepared for me to just as unnecessarily shout the complicated intricacies of my menstrual cycle. No, Muslim women do not fast on their periods because it’s not healthy. If you ask I will tell you. And if my period isn’t the reason I’m not fasting, please see #11 again. Let me live my life. My fasting is between me and God.
14. "Wow, this would be so much easier in the winter!"
Yeah, we know.