In the multicultural society of Qatar, Ramadan becomes a time of reflection for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Ramadan experience and its spirit is observed by non-Muslims as well where many take part in some version of a fast and partake in charity campaigns.

Marhaba talks to a few non-Muslims in Qatar who observe Ramadan to explore how they celebrate the holy month.

Sreekanth Surendran, sales manager, Indian and Hindu

Why do you choose to fast in Ramadan?

I believe fasting during Ramadan helps me purify my body and mind. It helps me feel the struggles and pains of poor people around the world. It also showcases one person’s willpower to sacrifice for something good. I also consider fasting as a prayer to the god for the betterment of my family.

Walk us through your fasting routine in Ramadan.

I usually won’t get up at early morning at 3 am to have food. My last food intake will be before I sleep around midnight. I break the fast when I hear the adhan [maghrib call to prayer] from a mosque nearby.

Is this your first time to fast during Ramadan? How has the experience been for you thus far?

No. It’s my 4th year. So far the experience is good and I wish I could continue this until I die.

How do you feel fasting has benefitted you, whether physically or spiritually?

Fasting has benefitted me both physically and spiritually – literally purifies my body and mind.

Anahi Brown, empowerment coach, Venezuelan and Catholic

Why do you choose to fast in Ramadan?

During my normal life, I always tend to practice Intermittent Fasting, fasting for 16-18 hours each day and eating in windows of 8-6 hours respectively. This year, I decided to try fasting more consistently and use this as a way to support clients and followers on their own fasting journeys. I wanted to push myself a bit more into what others might experience and so make my fasts more meaningful and structured. I’m also sharing all my journey with the Facebook community to help them with tips and ideas to thrive with fasting.

Walk us through your fasting routine in Ramadan.

I’m fasting from 7 pm to 3:30 pm most days. I’m still drinking water, but I’m limiting my coffee consumption too, as I would normally drink 3-4 cups through my day, but now I’m doing one maximum. Logging everything to share in the group keeps me accountable of my choices and also of when I ate just to eat instead of for hunger/replenishment.

Is this your first time to fast during Ramadan? How has the experience been for you thus far? 

It is, but I’m still drinking water. It’s also the first time that I’m committed to keeping my water and food intake mindful and to make something extra with these choices.

How do you feel fasting has benefitted you whether physically or spiritually?

I love fasting. Physically I see loads of benefits, which is why it’s a practice that I’ve assimilated into my normal life, but the mindful element is keeping me grounded. I love that being in Qatar means I add a layer of spirituality to a practice that I follow purely for its amazing health benefits.

Bosco Menezes, photographer and founder of bigbfotografi, Indian and Catholic

What does Ramadan mean to you and how do you observe the holy month?

Ramadan is my favourite month of the year, although I am Christian. I try to take part in as many Ramadan practices as possible including iftar and suhoor as well as charity events. But mostly, I try to keep a healthy body and mind. Ever since I was a kid, my dad would take me to play sport in the afternoon and this tradition has continued to this day.

What Ramadan practices do you take part in?

I love the spirit of Ramadan. I try my best to fast at least once with my Muslim brethren. It is difficult as I am a foodie. I participate in charitable causes and team up with various organisations to distribute iftar meals.

This Ramadan, I began distributing iftar meals with my colleagues. We visited Al Wakra jetty over the weekend to distribute iftar meals. The satisfaction you get in giving is immense.

I believe Ramadan transcends religion; it is a wakeup call for all of humanity to observe a month of giving, tolerance and abstain. As a Muslim friend of mine said, the spirit of Ramadan should be followed year-long!

Author: Ola Diab

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