Muslims are now in the thick of Ramadan (OK, fine, we started fasting on Monday, but you know…). If you’re not familiar with the concept of Ramadan, it’s the period before Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa (puasa means to fast) where Muslims are required to fast for a whole month. During the holy month, Muslims are advised to stay away from sinful behaviour, including swearing, talking behind others’ back and other actions that bear ill intentions. They also abstain from drinking and eating from dawn to dusk.
If you have Muslim colleagues or just want to know more about the fasting month, scroll the gallery to find out more.
You don’t have to stop talking about food around your Muslim colleagues
Just because they can’t eat, it doesn’t mean they can’t talk about food. If your Muslim colleagues tell you that they’re not allowed to speak of food, they’re either trying to pull a fast one on you, or they’re trying to minimise temptations because let’s be real, talking about food can make you feel hungry.
It’s not a must to eat before dawn
Some people don’t do well with breakfast and if you can tahan till dusk without eating or drinking anything, you really don’t have to wake up before to have your pre-dawn meal, known as sahur. However, you need to remember to say your prayer the night before for your fast to be valid.
You can’t forget your prayers
There’s a specific prayer you have to say after having your sahur. What if you forget to say the prayer until the cut-off time? Your fast will be considered void, unfortunately.
There are no-fasting days for women
Women are exempted from fasting when we’re on our period—in the same way we can’t do our daily prayers during that time of the month. The exemption also extends to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those who are ill or old. However, while you’re absolutely prohibited to fast when you’re on your period, the others can continue to fast if they feel up for it.
You need to pay back what you owe
If you’re wondering why some of your colleagues are fasting even when it’s not the fasting month, there could be two reasons: they’re doing it voluntarily to accumulate reward, or as a “pay back” for the number of days they didn’t fast. This debt can be repaid after the fasting month, and before the next one the following year, save for a few prohibited days.
You have to break fast at a specific time
It’s recommended that you break your fast during dusk. If you’re commuting, you can drink a sip of water or eat a sweet to break your fast. While your fast won’t be considered void if you fail to do it, it is not advisable. But no, you can’t break fast any time before dusk or maghrib prayers.
There’s no such thing as a half-day fast
Fasting is not like taking annual leave—you can’t just decide that you’ll fast for half a day. Yes, there are kids who do that, but it’s a way of getting them used to the idea of fasting. But you can’t do this as an adult, unless you’re a recent convert who is fasting for the first time.
You can’t have sexual intercourse while you’re fasting
You can have sex with your husband during the month of Ramadan—but only at night/before dawn. Engaging in sexual intercourse while you’re fasting is forbidden and is one of the more serious acts that invalidates your fast.