Is it alright to eat in front of our Muslim friends and colleagues when they can't?

Anna Lee  |  MY
Published 2016-06-07 15:37:27

The Ramadhan season has just begun and having 2 colleagues who are observing the fasting period, those who aren’t were heard asking around the table, “Is it alright if I drink, or eat this?” Every year the question is posed time and time again of whether it is okay to eat or drink in front of our Muslim friends during the Ramadhan season.

Facebook user, Mujahidin Zulkiffli had the perfect response in the form of a status update, that would sum up the reply to all the questions that non-Muslims might have this time around. Mujahidin, who states on his social media profile that he is the special assistant to the chairman and head of public engagement at Petra Group has 1318 followers, but his latest status update was liked by over 3000 Facebook users.

“We Can’t Eat But…”

Image Credit: LDS Mag
Image Credit: LDS Mag

He made a point by saying Muslims should join others during lunch and breakfast while remaining in their fast. “Why miss out on all the interesting conversations taking place at the makan session? Great ideas are usually churned out of those sessions among friends and business partners so why let Ramadhan stop us from doing the same thing we do daily. We can’t eat but surely we are strong enough to fast and enjoy the conversations,” he noted.

He also said that non-Muslims can help Muslims gain more pahala (pahala is a reward for the afterlife observed in the Muslim religion) by eating in front of them, and yes, we don’t have to discreetly try to hide our food from them.

Mujahidin said, “Seriously, according to our teachings, we would get more pahala if we embrace the challenge and test of seeing others eat. This is exactly why we fast, to feel how the poor feel when they see us eat whilst they suffer hunger. Anyhow, if we really want to fast, we will fast regardless. If we crumble at the sight of others eating then we ought to look within ourselves and find those strengths and ask ourselves why do we even fast?”

Among other thoughts, the social media user also said that shops should open business as usual, the Islamic authorities should allow Muslims to fast or skip fast on their own accord, and for Muslims to not scold, warn or advice Non-Muslims to “respect Ramadhan”.

Entitled, “My Dreams For Ramadhan”, Mujahidin shared what he hopes to see during this season which he hopes isn’t just wishful thinking, as he ended his post with, “But I know I’ll wake up at Hari Raya knowing these are just dreams and too much to ask for.”

It’s Okay To Ask Why

Image Credit: The Star
Image Credit: The Star

With more than 1800 shares in 2 days, perhaps it isn’t just wishful thinking on Mujahidin’s part. Unconsciously, he was actually able to promote racial harmony with his post, considering how all different races and even Westerners were giving their two cents worth of uplifting comments, and sharing out the post as well.

Leon Tan said, “Well said buddy. So many non-Muslims are confused and conflicted as to how to conduct ourselves during Ramadan – and it’s because we respect our Muslim comrades. But I’ve always felt that ‘business as usual’ should be the norm. Because it’s a private journey, not a State-enforced one. Thank you for being thoughtful Mujahidin, proud to be your Petra comrade.”

Perhaps a reason why non-Muslims are confused during Ramadhan is due to the reason that questions were not asked out in the open, hence why we have no answers for them. In that same vein, Muslims might not know what is the proper conduct during Thaipusam or Buddhists may not know the purpose behind Lent.

This is all part and parcel of the benefits of being in a multi-racial country with a diversity of races and religions—we have the opportunity to learn. If anything, what Mujahidin’s post is able to evoke is the sense of curiosity and the courage among Malaysians to speak up and ask questions, because only when we ask will we know not only the answer, but also the reason behind the answer in the first place.

Feature Image Credit: Calisthenics Mag

You can read the full Facebook post here:

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