Home News Monday is Ramadan; non-Muslims join in fasting: “It’s a real moment of friendliness, sharing, generosity”

Monday is Ramadan; non-Muslims join in fasting: “It’s a real moment of friendliness, sharing, generosity”

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The Islamic month of Ramadan will end today with Eid-el-Fitri, its celebration, holding tomorrow.

This completes a 30-day fasting period  which commenced on 1st April.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court announced on Saturday that Sunday would be the last day of Ramadan, meaning Eid Al-Fitr will begin on Monday. The court reported that the Shawwal crescent was not sighted on Saturday and thus Ramadan continues on Sunday.

The Crescent Sighting Committee of the Saudi Supreme Court held a session to determine the start of the month of Shawwal for this year, which is done by the sighting of the crescent moon, in accordance with the Muslim lunar calendar.

Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) yesterday asked Nigerian Muslims to look out for the crescent moon.

As of 6 p.m. Nigerian time, the NSCIA had not announced the sighting of the moon anywhere in the country.

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain also announced that the first day of Eid el-Fitr will be Monday, AlArabiya News network quoted the International Astronomical Centre as saying on Twitter.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

Arab News reports that in Saudi Arabia, many non-Muslims living in the country decided to fast during Ramadan to feel a sense of closeness and comradery with their Muslim friends and colleagues.

Muslims in Riyadh break their fast with an iftar during the holy month of Ramadan. Photo: AFP

Out of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s population of about 35 million, there are roughly nine million foreign workers, many of whom are non-Muslim.

“You don’t do Ramadan only on your own — you share it. It’s a real moment of friendliness and sharing of generosity,” said Raphael Jaeger, a non-Muslim and head of the Riyadh branch of Alliance Françaises.

“I feel that I am a part of this beautiful experience, and I think of Ramadan now, and what I am doing is building this bridge between the Saudi and the French culture”, he added.

Jaeger has lived in Riyadh for three years, but said that this year was his first time fasting for Ramadan.

“My first year in Saudi Arabia, I didn’t know that many people deeply, and then COVID-19 happened”, Jaeger said.

But since then, he has made many Saudi friends and built strong relationships. Just before the beginning of Ramadan, his friends invited him to join them for iftar (the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan).

“I wanted to share with them the experience of the accomplishment, the personal, spiritual and physical challenge for iftar“, Jaeger said.

He had a squash match on the first day of Ramadan and found himself extremely thirsty during the match.

“It was the very first time and very challenging experience not to drink water, which I didn’t, and I was very proud of myself,” he said.

Jaeger compared the process of fasting to the experiences of going to the gym and surpassing a personal goal.

“These small victories that you have in life, you have it every day during Ramadan, and you have it in solidarity with so many people, that together we stand”, he said.

 

American Maria Ross celebrates Ramadan each year with her friends and family across the countries she travels. Photo credit: Arab News

While Ramadan is known to have a positive impact on spiritual well-being it also has plenty of physical health benefits too. Indeed, studies suggest that fasting from sunrise to sundown can significantly improve personal health.

There also seem to be mental health benefits. Fasting makes the brain more resilient and adaptable and improves mood and memory.

Refraining from food allows blood sugar levels to decrease, which in turn helps the body to use stored glucose for energy resulting in the body naturally regulating itself. However, people with insulin or sugar concerns should seek medical advice before fasting.

Mariah Ross, a 21-year-old from Cleveland, a United States citizen in Saudi Arabia, shared her experiences as a non-Muslim fasting during Ramadan.

“I started fasting when I went on my first international trip to Turkey. I was traveling with my Muslim best friend, so we decided to fast together and enjoy Turkey like the locals during Ramadan”, she said.

Ross has fasted many times during her travels in Muslim countries and while at the university, where most of her core friends were from Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

“I spent that Ramadan every day with my friends, and we always ate iftar together, either going out to eat or in one of our apartments”, she said.

Although it is not obligatory for non-Muslims to fast in Saudi Arabia, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants are closed during daylight hours.

Additional reports by Arab News https://www.arabnews.com/

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