Coping with Fasting in a Non-Muslim Environment
It is now half way through Ramadan and interestingly, a lot of us have found it easier this year in terms of fasting long hours. One aspect that may be a rigour to many however, is maintaining their fast with patience and the best of etiquette in a non-Muslim environment. Balancing the fast alongside a hard-working day could just about be maintained, yet some may struggle with the questioning or actions received from non-Muslims who may generally be unaware of the mental struggles a fasting person encounters alongside the physical strains. Here are a few tips that highlight the virtues of fasting, which if focused on, then can help bring ease to your fasts in a non-Muslim environment.
1. Understand the virtues of fasting
Understanding the virtues of fasting, why we fast and the benefits that come out from this, is what will keep your fast going. Fasting is a gift from Allah, a chance to cleanse ourselves physically and spiritually. When we view fasting as a prestigious gift sent down from the Loftiest skies, any obstacles hindering our patience will be easily ignored. Consequently, we will honour the guest of Ramadan and cherish its virtues for as long as we can.
It can get difficult watching someone eat a meal in front of you at work, someone talking about food or even someone just sitting with food. However, when you immerse yourself into the benefits of Ramadan and you take value of the short time that you have with this blessed month before it disappears, you focus more on reaping the benefits.
“And be patient for your patience is but by Allah…” [16:127]
2. Exhibit the beauty of Islam
Fasting can get difficult, especially during long hours. Nevertheless, do not exhaust yourself away from enjoying the fast. How we are spiritually uplifted in this blessed month and the positivity that comes out of that should be displayed to others too.
At your workplace, exhibit the beauty of Islam and the benefits of fasting to your non-Muslim colleagues. ‘Exhibit,’ doesn’t necessarily mean you need to talk about these factors and inform and educate through only this way. Rather, it means to show others through your actions and etiquettes.
Your self-control and self-discipline will be an inspiration to non-Muslims too – it’s an element we all need in our lives. Through appreciating the goodness of Ramadan, you could aim to show others how your behaviour has changed despite being in hunger. Having good etiquettes and morals whilst in a weak condition, allows us to exhibit that fasting is not a burden, rather a sense of inner peace and transformation to our lifestyle.
“If Allah guides a person through you, it is better for you than all that is on the earth.” [Bukhari]
3. Be constant in your dhikr
Engaging ourselves in the remembrance of Allah (swt) works wonders in all areas. When you immerse yourself in dhikr continuously, you will find that you will naturally do this passively. Dhikr is therefore, easy to carry out on a regular basis. The virtue of dhikr is that it keeps your tongue moist with pure words and keeps you occupied and focussed. This keeps you away from engaging in unnecessary talk and activities.
Your non-Muslim friends and colleagues should be able to see a change in you for the better this month. Naturally, they will respect you accordingly and this will perhaps encourage them to try out some of the activities you carry out.
“When the heart is nourished with dhikr, its thirst quenched with contemplation and cleansed from corruption, it shall witness remarkable and wondrous matters and be inspired with wisdom.” [Ibn al-Qayyim (rh)]
These three simple steps will envelop our fasts with patience and gratitude. In turn, we will find ourselves distracted from what may harm our fasts and more engaged towards extracting the fruits of this blessed month. Our foundation should be such that we are indulged in dhikr and seeking knowledge continuously. This will work as a shield to enlighten our positivity, renew our intentions and rekindle our Imaan every time we may feel like we are slipping off.