Monday, October 29, 2007

Don't eat infront of me. Can't you respect my religion

I should have written this during Ramadan but for some reason I never got around to doing so.

When I was too young to fast my mother/aunt/grandmother would prepare my meals for me and chase me around the house in an attempt to make me eat my lunch/breakfast etc. But once we were outside before iftar I was continuously reminded that I should not eat in public for my actions will insult others who are fasting. If this confuses a child then you can imagine how as an adult I am still perplexed!

Why is it illegal to eat in public during Ramadan? More importantly, is there any mention in the Holy Scriptures regarding this restriction? I have been through the Quran and the Hadith ( sahih bukhari) but I still haven't found any references to this. If I have missed something PLEASE do refer me to the right sections/paragraph/text/book.

Are peoples faith so brittle that they will be tempted to break their fast just because someone else is eating in front of them? Is the mother that prepares lunch and breakfast for her children tempted to break her fast? Definitely not.

Will fasting be an impossible feat to achieve if people ate in public? Then the millions of Muslims in India, Europe, North America who do not have this luxury must have thrown in the towel.

Is the act of consuming food during daylight hours really an attempt to mock a Muslim's efforts and entice them to succumb to their basic instinct to eat?

Or is it a way to control the masses and ensure that Islamic principles are adhered to and that deviance from it does not manifest itself on a macro level?

I am still confused!


secretdubai said...

All educated, observant Muslims I have asked about this say there should be no issue with eating in public. The sick/elderly/young/pregnant/nursing should not be inconvenienced further for the sake of the "comfort" of healthy fasters.

Besides which, having fasted (food and water) for three Ramadans, I can report that people eating around one make very little difference. At most they might trigger a stomach rumble, but it is hardly torture. More a reminder of the importance of food, and what it must be like to the genuinely needy and hungry to have to suffer shortages on a daily basis, with no plenteous iftars to look forward to.

rosh said...

I agree with you & SD

The firm I was at whilst in DXB, had Arabs, locals and Sub-cons, many of whom were fasting. Often, my lunch (if I had the time) was a cold sandwich or salad & coke i.e. the office didn't smell of food - however some folks would have a hotplate & drinks in midst of those fasting, with the aroma and all.

Yes - it may not be incorrect, however placing aside all religious beliefs, is it polite/considerate to do so?

I agree exceptions must be in place, such as a pregnant moms/sick/elderly - and I do believe, such exceptions are in place (pse correct me if I am wrong?) I don't know if an elderly man or a pregnant mom has been fined/jailed for consuming food in a shopping mall during Ramadan?

Personally, I've always had meals during Ramadan, away from those fasting, in the comforts of office cube or at home - only because of personal respect to the other being. Don't know if it had to do much with religion - perhaps it did, but was never forced. It's similar to when mom fasts at Lent. I wouldn't bring KFC or shawarmas into the house and splurge in front of her :)

Keefieboy said...

I just had my happiest Ramadan ever, here in Spain where Muslims are thin on the ground. I think it's only GCC countries who insist that their non-Muslim 'guests' should 'respect' Ramadan. What they don't seem to get is that 'respect' is not the same as 'beimg sensitive'.

BuJ said...

hey,, a word of advice.. when it comes to renewing your residency.. you might encounter some extra bureaucracy.. haha

no, seriously, i saw no issue with eating in bublic.. as long as it was done with discretion.. e.g. a kid eating in his parent's car.. or a pregnant woman eating in a corner somewhere.. but for a bunch of loud marines slurping their "bottomless" "sodas" in the middle of MoE.. that's kinda bit too much.. maybe if i go down to JFK and shout out that 9/11's toll was about 1% of that of Hiroshima.. i would get a similar reaction.

allright Keeeefie.. get it all out :P

KJ said...

It is ridiculous. No one said people shouldn't eat in public - this is just being overcoservative

moviemania said...

Very good post!

Hope you don't mind me linking to this post on one of my entries :)

Cairogal said...

Ramadan is intended to be a month of going about your normal business w/o food, water, and all the good stuff from sunup to sundown. Of course, the UAE like most predominently Muslim nations don't observe Ramadan anything like the prescribed manner. Short days, late starts, long naps...the same goes for forbidding public dining.

Resident in a Muslim Country said...

One must respect the culture of the country where he resides, else he must leave that country. By not eating in public during month of Ramadan in a muslim country, non muslim will not die.

Cairogal said...

'One must respect the culture of the country where he resides, else he must leave that country. By not eating in public during month of Ramadan in a muslim country, non muslim will not die.'

It's not about muslim or non-muslim. It's about fasters vs. non-fasters. Those who are not fasting during Ramadan(for whatever reason) are doing nothing wrong Islamically by eating in public places.

Keefieboy said...

One must respect the culture of the country where he resides, else he must leave that country. By not eating in public during month of Ramadan in a muslim country, non muslim will not die.
To put it bluntly, Muslims do this daytime fasting thing to score points with God. As an infidel, there's nothing in it for me, so why should I do it? As for 'respecting the religion/culture' - I said before 'respect' does not mean the same as 'follow'. To clarify: I can walk around Dubai and not fall about laughing when I see a local walking around in a nightshirt - it does not mean that I too should walk around in a nightshirt (although I do at home: they're very comfortable) - in fact if I did I would probably be in trouble for impersonating an Emirati!

Anonymous said...

If I'm forced to fast out of "respect for the local culture -- or leave" then Muslims in the West should celebrate christmas and drop the chador and wear revealing clothes. Or leave.

Oh, wait. In the West, expressing your beliefs is fine unless you harm others. Here, practicing your beliefs -- if you're non-Muslim -- is a no-no.

Respect goes both ways.

Single and Fabulous said...

I agree with Rosh.