We have had fun for 11 months so what would be wrong if we forbid ourselves from having fun only for 30 days. Ramadan teaches us to stay away from any kind of fun while fasting. It is a single month of purification, ask forgiveness from Allah Almighty and devote ourselves only for 30 days which is not a long period.

During Ramadan, Muslims attend the mosque nightly to stand in a congregation (foot to foot) for the evening prayers or tarawih. The mosque may have the iftar or breaking of the fast. At the very least, Muslims can greet each other and wish each other a happy and blessed Ramadan. This is the community spirit which is severely altered with social distancing, which started several months ago and affects the weekly, Friday prayers which are obligatory on all Muslim men.

Ramadan comes at a different time every year.

If Ramadan seems harder to predict than Easter or the Jewish High Holidays, there’s a reason for that. Ramadan follows a strictly lunar calendar, and a lunar year is about 11 days shorter than a solar year. So each year, Ramadan begins a little earlier in the annual round.

Easter always happens in the spring, and the High Holidays always happen in the fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). Ramadan moves backwards through the seasons, from summer to spring to winter to fall, completing the cycle every 33 years or so. That means a typical Muslim observes Ramadan in every season as the years pass. If Ramadan were made to conform to the solar year, some of us would have to always endure long summer days of fasting, while others, who always fasted in winter, would barely have time to notice they were hungry.

Don’t worry about us.

Thank you for your concern, but fasting is not dangerous. We fast from sun up to sundown each day, and we are often reminded to eat something just before we begin and at the moment the sunsets. There is no merit in prolonging the fast. Feats of asceticism are not just discouraged during Ramadan; they are universally frowned upon.

Those of us who are pregnant, or who have a health condition that could be aggravated by fasting, are exempt. As we age, most of us get to a point where we stop fasting or only fast briefly. If we have the means, we buy dates and oranges to hand out at sunset, or we pay for our neighbours’ iftar (fast-breaking evening meal).

Fasting is more of a trial during long summer days, so we may feel depleted by late afternoon. But as soon as the sun sets, we break our fast. In most communities, everyone is then invited to a free iftar at the mosque. During Ramadan, the rich and the poor sit together and share the same meal. We all hunger during the day and are filled in the evening.

Don’t hide your food and water.

You won’t offend us by eating your lunch or drinking your coffee in front of us. That is, if one of us does take offence, he or she might as well not be fasting. Kindness and good conduct toward others are more important than denying ourselves food and water. Ramadan is a month-long spiritual exercise, not a conspicuous display of piety or an effort to reach fitness goals. Observing Ramadan does not give me an excuse to demand that other people change their behaviour for my sake.

Besides, the experience of fasting is not a relentless craving for food or drink. The sight or smell of food is not torment. If you don’t believe me, try fasting for a day yourself. I believe you’ll feel different, but not deprived. If you’ve never fasted before, there may be some initial anxiety. But you’ll probably be surprised at how soon you stop thinking about what you thought you needed.

Questions are welcome.

If you’re curious, ask.

Pro tip: If we talk too long or get carried away with a subject, just raise your hand and say gently, “That’s enough.”

Content:

Come join us for dinner.

Many mosques serve iftar to non-Muslim visitors during Ramadan. (It’s a good idea to call ahead if you plan to come, especially if you are bringing a group.) Hospitality is a very important value to most Muslims. People will usually go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

Unless you are an exceptionally picky or timid eater, I think the food will please you. American Muslim communities are among the most diverse in the world, so you might be served an Arab casserole thing with aromatic rice, or maybe a South Asian curry and samosas, or (my current favourite) a spicy West African goat stew. Or there might be pizza. The greater the number of teens in the community, the greater the odds that pizza will be an option.