Ramadan is not just a month of hunger for Muslims. Considered to be the holiest month of the year for Muslims, this month goes far beyond fasting before sunrise to sunset. It is a month for spiritual connection, self discipline, reconnecting to faith and religious practices, remembering those who are less fortunate, and spending time with family.
With about 7.6 billion people in the world, around 24% of them, 1.8 billion, are fasting from sunup to sundown. Every day. For an entire month.
In a population of about 2.74 million people in Qatar, more than 80% being expatriates from different countries around the world, the religious spread of the population residing in Qatar is split at roughly 67.7% Muslims and 32.3% population belonging to other religions.
In a Muslim majority country, Ramadan is celebrated with a passion of longing and love.
But what if you’re not a Muslim – just a caring, considerate person. How do non-Muslim expatriates in Qatar spend their Ramadan? Sharice Tan, a makeup artist from Philippines residing in Doha for the previous 10 years, talks to Community about cherishing the month of Ramadan and standing side-by-side with her Muslim friends and acquaintances.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is a time for Muslims all over the world to renew their focus on spiritual life and its practical application in daily life. Sharice completely agrees that a conscious fasting develops a sense of compassion in an individual especially towards the needy and poor along with spiritual well-being. Over to Sherice, “Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims as they show their submission to their higher authority, Allah, through fasting. Living in Qatar for 10 years with Islam as the state religion, I’ve had my fair share in witnessing this most sacred month of Muslims — I believe that it should be seen with admiration and respect as we observe this type of sacrifice despite our differences of beliefs and spiritual principles,” she says.
Where Ramadan is a time of increased devotion and moral conduct, there’s a considerable change in the working routines and schedule of people for an entire month as well – to make sure that work timings do not clash with the prayer timings of the ones fasting. Office hours are waned and so are the timings for other businesses. “Ramadan does affect people’s regular routine because of the change of environment including the work and public timings, the observance of fasting and several aspects of how people and things work around the city,” says Sherice on how Ramadan affects people’s regular routine and businesses. She adds, “I mainly work in film and TVC productions and this means that projects are less in Ramadan because shoots are tough physically and mentally. The workload is far less then regular in Ramadan. Moreover, from the previous years, Ramadan has been on the same time as summer season and because of these two challenging factors, lots of projects and work are loafed.”
Sherice also appreciates the spirit of socialising and networking in Ramadan. She has been regularly taking part in Suhoors and Iftars with her friends, as a moral support to them and their beliefs. She says, “It has been a yearly occasion for me to join in selected Iftars and Suhoors, especially that the hotels here in Doha tries to top up their Ramadan tents from their last year’s outputs, both food wise and aesthetics decoration wise.”
COMPASSIONATE: Sharice says that a conscious fasting develops a sense of compassion in an individual especially towards the needy and poor along with spiritual well-being.