By Priscilla Mensah
Over the past few years, it seems that Ramadan as a religious holiday and observance has become somewhat mainstream. Talks of Ramadan seem to be everywhere, whether it be the numerous local and global politicians saying Ramadan Mubarak in displays of solidarity with Muslims observing the holy month, or the more recent #Ramadanforaday on social media.
Amidst such frequent mentioning of Ramadan, for reasons both political and otherwise, it may be the case that people who are not Muslim feel left out. It is because of this that I – as a Muslim who has observed Ramadan for over a decade and as someone who was raised in a Muslim household – feel compelled to invite any and everyone to join in on the fasting for a month fun that is Ramadan.
Because of its growing popularity, I’m sure many people are aware of at least some of the holiday’s components. For those who may not be as informed, Ramadan is a month where Muslims do not eat from sunup to sundown. About a half an hour before sunrise, observers of Ramadan have a meal called Suhoor, where they eat food equivalent to breakfast, that is meant to hopefully sustain those fasting for the duration of the day.
One of the major purposes of Ramadan is to reflect on and be thankful for all that you have while being cognisant of those who are less fortunate. This is primarily why Muslims abstain from eating during sunlight hours for the whole month. The reason why Muslims fast then is probably one reason that all can relate to and appreciate, which is why I’m inviting anyone to participate in observing Ramadan.
Of course, I’m by no means suggesting that one just jump in and start fasting without having ever done so previously. Nor am I even suggesting that people should fast. The operative word here is can. My invitation is for all to know that if they want to fast, they can. In that vein, my call is primarily for those interested in fasting but may also feel left out of the mix with all of the talks of community iftars on social media and scores of messages of “Ramadan Mubarak” from our elected officials.
If you decide you want to observe Ramadan, I think it may be best to, at least at first, only fast for one or two hours of the day, maybe half a day or a day at most, and see how you feel. A great example of a first step to take in participating in Ramadan, especially if it is your first time, can be found in #Ramadanforaday on social media.
As the hashtag suggests, Ramadan for a day involves presumably non-Muslims participating in Ramadan. The hashtag encapsulates precisely what I am encouraging in this piece: that anyone who may be interested in or perhaps curious about Ramadan can go for it.
Be sure to never feel pressured to do anything, of course, and always listen to your body. If you decide to participate in the #Ramadanforaday challenge or choose a different way to partially observe, make sure you feel up to it. In some cases, it may be best to even consult with a doctor first.
Caveats and disclaimers aside, giving your body a break from eating has many health benefits. This idea can be seen in a post on social media that I came across wherein someone wrote “Ramadan is the original keto diet.” If just for this reason, or for one or several of the other reasons previously mentioned, I am inviting any and everyone to participate in Ramadan.