Growing up as a Muslim in a country where there are various religions can be slightly difficult. People tend to hold various perceptions and notions about Muslims and how they fast during Ramadan, sometimes their belief system begins to rub on Muslims themselves. Hence, we get to see some Muslims holding this misconception as true. Below is a non- exhaustive list of misconceptions Muslims and Non-Muslims have about fasting in the month of Ramadan and Suhoor
- Muslims don’t eat for 30days or eat non-salty, non-peppery food: In some religions, fasting involves total abstinence from food in its entirety for the stipulated days, for some; people observing the fast will only be taking saltless and pepperless food like rice, garri, pap, cereal, etc. Ramadan is very different; we fast from dawn till sunset and take Suhoor/ pre-dawn meal. The Prophet (SAW) was reported to have said that taking suhoor is what differentiates the fasting of a Muslim. Hence, taking Suhoor/Pre-dawn and Iftar/Post Sunset meal is compulsory.
2. Muslims fear Ramadan: I must sincerely say I observed this attitude in some Muslims while growing up, but I later realized it really isn’t fear. Ramadan is a very sacred month, the only one of its kind in 12 months. Muslims find themselves bracing up to prepare and make the utmost use of the 29/30days. It really isn’t easy giving up a couple of things you used to do and know you shouldn’t. Ramadan is a month of forgiveness and the essence of fasting is to attain piety and faith strengthening, in hope that the things we stayed away from for Allah’s sake in 30days will go on to be a part of us even after Ramadan. Muslims all over the world tend to look out for each other this period because we are reminded of how our religion unites us with fasting
3.Non-Muslims aren’t allowed to eat in our presence: It’s okay to be thoughtful and considerate. But some tend to act like it’s a grave thing to do to Muslims. Some Muslims are also usually found getting offended when people do this. Except if the person is doing it on purpose to spite you as a fasting Muslim, I think if you’re very conscious of your fast you probably won’t welcome the thoughts of food in your head. You could simply stay away from a non- muslim who is eating if the person doesn’t have anywhere else to eat rather than make a big deal of it.
4. Mistakenly eating invalidates your fast: The Prophet (SAW) was reported to have said: “Whoever forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks, let him complete his fast, for the One Who fed him and gave him to drink was Allah.” Muslims are aware that not fasting when you should without a tenable reason comes with punishment, a Muslim is allowed to continue fasting as soon as he remembers the state, he/she is supposed to be.
5. Not fasting makes you a terrible Muslim: Non-Muslims are usually seen sometimes chastising a Muslim who isn’t fasting. Some people are exempted from fasting; Elderly, Pregnant menstruating women, sick people or those with certain medical conditions are not under the obligation to fast. However, fasting is enjoined upon every Muslim and is a Pillar of the religion, non-fasting Muslims are expected to pay up their fast when they get better or feed a fasting person for those who will still be unable to fast even after Ramadan
6. Fasting was mandated to test your bravery: Non- Muslims are usually seen hailing and cheering fasting Muslims up, talking about how fasting is a herculean task. Fasting, on the contrary, was enjoined on Muslims so they can attain Allah’s forgiveness, feel what the poor endure and attain piety.
7. Muslims eat like never before at Iftar: Overeating could cause constipation; a bloated person will find it difficult to pray Taraweeh or even move. The Prophet (SAW) advised Muslims to use the stomach in the following manner, one part for food, one for drink and the last for air.
8. Muslims don’t brush during Ramadan: Have you noticed that sometime when someone doesn’t have breakfast or anything till late in the afternoon, they tend to suffer bad breath? So bad breath is not spectacular to fasting Muslims. Meanwhile, Muslims are allowed to brush while fasting or use miswak or chewing stick.
9. You cannot taste food while cooking in Ramadan: Scholars have advised that one can taste food so long as you don’t let it go past your tongue and make sure not to swallow it. How do our mothers manage to make us good meals at Iftar despite fasting too if this isn’t permissible?
9. Fasting is only about abstaining from food and drink: Abstaining from food and drink is only a small part of the whole point and essence of Ramadan. Muslims are expected to do rewarding activities like seeking forgiveness, reading Quran, doing charity, etc
Suhoor should be taken after Taraweeh: “and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Sawm (fast) till the nightfall” (Al-Baqorah: 187). The Prophet (SAW) enjoined Muslims to hasten to break their fast and delay Suhoor. Clearly, taking Suhoor before midnight isn’t advisable as it should be eaten closer to Fajr and not before midnight. Al-Bukhaari (1919) narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that Bilaal used to give the adhaan at night. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktoom gives the call to prayer because he does not give the call to prayer until dawn breaks.” This explains that Suhoor should be stopped as soon as you hear the adhan that announces fajr. Scholars have agreed that people who do not have the opportunity to hear the Adhan from their houses could use an App, or calendar or get the Fajr time from the nearest mosque. However, anyone who is currently eating at the time of hearing the Adhan should finish up, Abi Dawud reported: “When one of you hears the call and the vessel is in his hand, let him not put it down until he has fulfilled his need of it.” Prophet (SAW). This doesn’t mean if you have so much you keep eating, it simply means eat the one in your hands.
Above all, keeping intentions pure is all that matters as only Allah see’s the heart and knows what is hidden beneath.
And Allah knows best