Kabayans, Ramadan is upon us again and as expatriates, we have to be respectful of the norms and traditions of our host country. What best way to welcome the holy month than be reminded of what we can and must not do during this month?
Ramadan is expected to start tomorrow, 6th May until 5th June 2019. During these weeks, office hours are shortened and business establishments particularly in the food and beverage industry open late in the afternoon or early evening.
Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
Ramadan is almost an equivalent to the Christians’ Holy Week but instead a whole month of prayer and fasting. Ramadan is observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This is done in remembrance of when Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. This annual commemoration lasts for 29-30 days and is started and ended upon the sighting of the crescent moon, making the date varies every year. Fasting is part of the five pillars of Islam (Shahada = Faith, Salah = Prayer, Zakat = Charity, Sawm = Fasting and Hajj = Pilgrimage) making it one of the most important undertakings Muslims does every Ramadan.
What to expect during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, Muslims are fasting for atonement, are reflecting on their fast behaviors, seeking for forgiveness and expressing their gratitude. They are also expected to follow all the teachings of Islam and to avoid being angry, envious, greedy and lustful as much as possible. Getting along well with fellow Muslims is also expected.
As for expatriates we also have our own Do’s and Don’ts. We must make sure to follow all these and if we see a fellow OFW who is not abiding, please make it our responsibility to inform them, not just to avoid any sanctions or fines but to be a responsible expatriate who is respectful of the customs of our second home.
DO wish a blessed Ramadan to Muslim friends and colleagues. If you are invited, attend an iftar, experience the culture.
Kabayans, don’t feel shy to greet your friends and colleagues. Greet them “Ramadan Kareem” and “Ramadan Mubarak”. It would be appreciated by your friends and colleagues seeing you managed to take the time to learn how to greet them during this month. If they extended an invitation for iftar (meal taken after sunset to signify the end of the day’s fast), attend. You could also greet them “Iftar Shahy” or “Have a delicious iftar” by the end of the day.
DO become vigilant drivers. There is actually an increase in numbers of car accidents during Ramadan.
OFW drivers be extra careful when driving during Ramadan especially when the fast is about to break. People are rushing to break their fast at home and is at times the cause of accidents. As pedestrians, we also have to be wary. When crossing the streets, avoid crossing it when the light is already yellow. Give priority to those who are rushing to reach their home.
DO be mindful of our Muslim brothers and sisters during the Holy Month. Let’s be one with them in spirit and be respectful of their beliefs.
We all know that our Muslim friends and colleagues are trying their best to adhere to the Islam teaching, all the more during Ramadan. Let us not provoke them and instead encourage them. Let us do everything we can to support them in their pursuit to lead a life free of transgressions.
DON’T eat and drink in public from dusk to dawn. This is a NO NO. You are not allowed to eat and or drink in public during the fasting period. Though we can eat at our respective workplaces, hide from colleagues who are fasting and try to avoid eating smelly foods.
For new OFWs, you must remember that we are not allowed to eat and or drink in public. When we are in our workplace, we could eat and drink as we are not expected to fast like them but out of respect and courtesy, we should hide from those who are fasting. Since we wanted to support them, let us do our best not to tempt or provoke them.
DON’T monopolize your table at the restaurant. If possible, leave immediately after eating and just talk with your friends in a coffee shop or a nearby park.
When we eat outside during Ramadan, let us be mindful of those who would have their first meal for the day. OFWs tend to linger and just talk after eating. Please try to avoid this during Ramadan and give your seats and table immediately to people waiting. Families and friends break their fast together and if they are not able to cook at home, they break their fast in restaurants.
DON’T get into debates, arguments or fights during Ramadan. It is the month of peace and serenity. Swearing in public is also offensive during Ramadan.
As we keep on mentioning, let us not provoke our Muslim friends and colleagues during Ramadan. This month is not only a month for them to atone for their past sins, it is also a month of peace and serenity. Don’t get into any heated arguments that would end up on a shout fest or worst, a physical fight. Talking loudly and or playing loud music should also be avoided.
DO give to charity
This is definitely one of those things our Muslim friends and colleagues do during Ramadan that we should participate in. Give to the needy. Share your blessings and be reminded that no matter what difficulty you are facing, you are still so, so, blessed.
For some, living in the Gulf is kind of restricting especially to countries who are not open. But as OFWs, we should be grateful that these countries opened their doors for us, welcomed us and gave us our jobs to help our families back in the Philippines. The least we could do is abide by their rules and respect their customs and beliefs.