How To Support Your Friends During Ramadan

Ramadan is an important and special time of year for your Muslim friends and you might be wondering how you can support or make things easier for them while they’re fasting.

Ramadan started on the 10th of March this year and Eid will begin on the 9th of April and between then, your Muslim friends may be fasting from dawn to dusk every day.

For many who are keeping up with uni work or working part-time during Ramadan, their usual routine may be disrupted and they may need some extra support from both their uni and employers and their friends too.

If you want to support your friends during Ramadan, here are some of the simple things you could do to help support them and be a great friend, even if you are not observing Ramadan yourself.

1. Be considerate when making plans

Whether you just want to hang out or are scheduling time to meet for uni group work, try and think about where and when you’re arranging meeting up. Try and arrange meetings earlier in the day when your friends may have more energy and don’t revolve the meeting around eating or drinking.

Be considerate and don’t suggest all meeting up for lunch or coffee while you’re working on a group project during Ramadan — a library meetup would work just as well. If you’re unsure, it won’t hurt to message your friends who are fasting privately before making a big group chat to discuss plans and ask them what they’d be comfortable with before talking to everyone else.

2. Don’t try and hide eating or drinking

On that note, going out of your way to not eat or drink in front of your friends or trying to hide it can just make things feel super awkward and make your friends uncomfortable, especially if you’re going to extremes trying to avoid even mentioning food.

Of course, everyone is different so it doesn’t hurt to ask your friends if they’re ok with you having a drink or snack in front of them but don’t go out of your way to avoid doing it without having the conversation first and if you are eating in front of your friends, you don’t need to make a huge deal about it either.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

It’s ok if you have questions and you don’t know everything about Ramadan or about fasting. Your friends will most likely be happy to answer respectful questions and will appreciate you taking an interest in something that is important to them.

In fact, the more questions you ask the more you’ll understand about how you could support your friends without having to ask them directly.

4. Don’t exclude them

Chances are, you’re probably already a great friend and that doesn’t have to be any different to usual. Your friends will most likely appreciate you treating them just the same as you usually do and not excluding them from anything. Just because it’s Ramadan, it doesn’t mean they won’t want to be involved in your usual plans or meeting up with you and other friends.

Of course, your friends may choose to decline certain plans but that doesn’t mean you should leave them out entirely. If you’re making plans and would normally invite your Muslim friends, continue to invite them but let them know there’s no pressure to attend and continue to extend your support and love to them— they’ll appreciate you not making things weird.

5. Don’t ask invasive questions

Of course, asking questions to learn and to educate yourself is one thing but consider what you’re asking first before you blurt it out. Never ask someone why they’re not fasting, or mention weight loss or dieting when it comes to fasting as this could be extremely triggering.

Remember that not everyone can fast every year, which could be due to personal preference or health conditions which your friends might not want to share, especially in public. Likewise, don’t make assumptions and stereotypes either! It’s great if you’ve done your own research on the cultural significance of Ramadan, but remember that fasting is an individual experience and everyone is different.

6. Show up for them

Unfortunately, not everyone is considerate or respectful when it comes to Ramadan and if someone doesn’t have any Muslim friends it might not even be on their radar. Showing up for your friends could be as simple as helping to suggest plans that don’t involve using too much energy or eating, or speaking up to show your support against Islamophobia.

For example, if you’re in a society together and have been asked to do an activity that exerts a lot of energy and then go out for drinks and food later as a reward, step up and suggest an alternative activity or remind others that people in the group are fasting — your friends will appreciate you looking out for them and not having to be the ones constantly having to ask for accommodations.

Remember that being a great friend means checking in with your Muslim friends and letting them know that you’re there if they need you but also giving them space when they need it without smothering them. Truly, the best thing you can do is continue to educate yourself, do your own research and continue to advocate for and show up for your friends throughout Ramadan and the rest of the year too.