The practices of Muslims during Ramadan can be intriguing to many non-Muslims who are unfamiliar with the Holy Month.
During this time our faith becomes more visible to our friends and colleagues as we fast, spend more time in prayer or quiet reflection, and politely turn down invitations to lunch. This can in turn prompt questions from our more curious friends and workmates. Ramadan can present a golden opportunity to discuss our faith with people who are not familiar with Islam.
Approaching this from a personal perspective could be the most effective way of conveying what Ramadan is. It might be a good idea to consider what Ramadan means to you in relation to your faith. What benefits do you get from observing it? How does it affect your perception of the world, your sense of self, and your faith? And what advantages could it have to everyone, irrespective of faith?
Many aspects of Ramadan are hugely beneficial to all human beings. Many people practice meditation in various forms and the psychological benefits of it are similar to the quiet reflection that many Muslims undertake during Ramadan. Fasting teaches us time management, self-discipline and reminds us of the value of food. Giving during Ramadan can be very rewarding and focuses our minds on those less fortunate (and in turn, how fortunate we are).
All of these things are relatable, regardless of faith. Speaking about them can convey the many benefits of Ramadan and increase understanding. And as we know, understanding breeds acceptance and reduces ignorance, which can only be a good thing.
Try inviting people to iftar to break the fast together. Extend an invitation to celebrate Eid.
Ramadan is a great time to consider the wider community and to share our faith and festival with everyone who wants to join in the fun. Many will admire our dedication to our faith and the unity between Muslims in the UK and around the world who are observing Ramadan together.
And together, irrespective of faith, we are stronger. United, we have a brighter future ahead of us.