Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the person patience and humility. Ramadan is a time to fast for the sake of God, and to offer even more prayer than usual. Also, asking forgiveness for the sins of the past, asking for guidance in the future, and asking for help with refraining from every day evils and try to purify oneself through self-restraint and good deeds is involved in Ramadan.
However, in Malaysia, the month itself has been tainted with the extreme gluttony during the entire month of fasting. Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, I don’t mean to sound racist but the gluttony among most Muslims in Malaysia can be seen in the Ramadan Bazaar. A few hours before breaking fast, a lot of people will stampede the bazaar in order to buy loads of food for the breaking fast. Sometimes you can see a man buying food in the bazaar as if he’s rationing for the war, which I find pretty ridiculous, because they are supposed to fast for the sake of God and practice moderation in the daily lives, especially during the fasting month.
But I think moderation doesn’t come in a package with some Muslims in Malaysia, as some even go for feasts or breaking fasts buffet in expensive hotels. I know that there are a lot of people who fast during the day and yet they indulge with food during the night, and I am not sure what the learn from their fasting. Probably just hunger, and not other things that’s supposed to enrich their soul with the benefit of fasting.
Fasting is actually good, according to medical studies, as it helps the digestive system to rest and for the body to detox, but I’m not so sure how many of Malaysian Muslim actually benefited from fasting as all I can see through my own observation is the practice of gluttony and impatience as an added bonus during the entire month.
It’s funny to note every year that even though the Ramadan month haven’t even reach the third day yet, Eid sales as well as songs is already in the air. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of that, but, I’d like to give some tips to the non- Muslim on how to cope with the Ramadan and take advantage of the Malaysian culture during the entire month. This year, Ramadan falls on 1st September 2008, which is today, so, here’s some tips for the non-Muslim…
1. If you’re a non-Muslim and yet your physical appearance looks like a Malay, please try not to eat in public, as the religious bodies will be letting out their minions to catch and punish the Muslim who are not fasting and have the guts to eat in public. Trust me, those minions won’t even bother to look at your Id.
2. Try to avoid offending them as some of them don’t really practice patience during the entire month… and they don’t hold their tongue either when they are arguing.
3. Some are really nicotine deprived, so if you are a smoker, avoid smoking in front of Muslim men if you don’t want to get a tongue lashing from them. (yeah, they cannot smoke too when they are fasting)
4. Be extra careful when you are driving… hungry stomachs can do a lot of damage to one’s driving skills.
5. If you are a food fan, Ramadan is the right month for you to go food hunting…in the Ramadan Bazaar, that is. There’s variety of food for you to pig on, and if you go and shop for food near the time of breaking fast, you might get them for a cheaper price.
6. Ramadan is also good for you to eat in hotel buffet. Some hotels really offer good price. So does fast food restaurant.
7. Never tapao lunch from a mamak shop if you see the shop is closed and yet the back door is opened. These kind of mamak shop are usually targets of the religious officers who is probably on the loose somewhere, ready to fine you and humiliate you, even if you’re a non-Muslim. Buy food from a non-Muslim restaurant instead, if that’s possible.
8. Mat rempit will be on loose during the sahur time, so don’t expect them to be quiet during the entire month…trust me, this is the month they are more active than ever.
9. Buy some new clothes during the raya sales…they’re quite reasonable.
10. Buy raya cookies only after raya. The stock clearance sales is dirt cheap. If you know where to find, you can even get a jar of those sweet delights at Rm2. And yea, stock up on breakfast cereals during Ramadan too. Usually they are dirt cheap during Ramadan as breakfasts cereals are one of the essential ingredients to make raya cookies.
11. If you’re a non-Muslim and you have kids who are studying in the public school, tell them not to eat in front of the Muslim kids, because your kids would definitely get into trouble if the Muslim kid report to the teachers that your kids eats in front of them. Your kids will be accused of not respecting Ramadan month, and that alone will be very troublesome. While some Muslim kids are pretty patient and respectful towards others, some are really reluctant to fast and gets jealous pretty easily on the ones who are not fasting. They’ll do anything to get the ones who are not fasting to be humiliated. (This comes from my personal experience…boy, I get into so much trouble when I was younger)
12. If you are trying to loose your jiggly bits, why not join the Muslim in fasting and try to loose weight? Temptation to eat will still be there, but the environment would be more encouraging as there won’t be so many buggers who will purposely eat pizzas or Secret Recipe cheesecake in front of you. You will probably loose weight, granted, if you’re not a glutton when you break your fast.
Happy Ramadan and happy fasting to all Muslim, and may your good deeds during the whole month be rewarded by God.
Cleffairy: Ramadan in Malaysia is certainly weird…instead of eating with moderation, some seems to be indulging with food during the breaking fast. Oh, well, at least Ramadan bring good news to food industry entrepreneurs.