Ramadan for Expats: Fasting Abroad

Ramadan is starting on the evening of 5 June this year and continues until the evening of 5 July. Muslims will be fasting during the day and only breaking their fast in the evenings after sunset. If you originally come from an Islam country where most of your friends, family and fellow citizens fast, you’ll be very accustomed to the practice, the customs and adapting during this time.


If you are a Muslim who moved abroad, this may not be the case. Ramadan is already a major religious commitment, but the challenge is made significantly larger when you’re in a different country where anyone can eat in public and continue with their days normally.
It’s difficult being in the minority, especially during such an important time in your spiritual life. So here are ways in which you can make Ramadan count this year even though you’re in a different country.


When you’re lethargic, focus on your surroundings.


This may sound like a strange way to handle feelings of hunger or tiredness, but it really works. Normally you might have someone like a co-worker to talk to about how you’re feeling, someone who will encourage you with their own behavior. If you’re alone abroad, this is unfortunately not the case, but you can use it to your advantage. Take in your new city, town and country. Indulge in the achievement of having found a job abroad and explore a new corner of the place you haven’t seen. This will take your mind off your physical circumstances.


Local Muslims are welcoming during Ramadan


If you haven’t yet built a Muslim community for yourself in your new country, Ramadan might be the perfect opportunity. Muslims who have travelled abroad during Ramadan said they found the Muslim communities to be much more welcoming during Ramadan. This is an especially important time for community and caring about others, so perhaps you should venture out to a local mosque or find a group that enjoy dinner together in the evenings.


You don’t have to eat with Muslims exclusively


If you share a house with people who don’t have the same religious beliefs as you, you can still enjoy dinners with them. A lot of the time, housemates understand Ramadan and they want to accommodate you. They might be willing to postpone their own dinners until after sunset. You could even offer to cook or buy dinner one night so you can all enjoy a social meal together. This is a great opportunity for you to share your cultures.


Spend more time with family


Ramadan is traditionally a time to connect with family and spend more time together. If you can’t take time off work and go home to see your family, you don’t have to feel despondent. Ramadan can still be a time where you connect with your family. Make an effort to phone them more often during this month. This is also a good way to stay motivated and focused.


Organize important meetings and conferences in the morning


If you’re working a conventional job, you won’t be able to take time off unless you have annual leave you can use. Chances are that you will experience a lack of energy during the afternoon. Try to organize your meetings, conferences or any important work so you finish it in the morning. This will help you handle your workload much better during the month. If it is an option to you, you can even ask your boss if you can start work earlier in the mornings and leave for home earlier as well. This will also aid your productivity.


Be open with your boss


Be honest with your boss about the fact that Ramadan is here and you’ll be fasting. It is best for them to know your situation in order for them to understand it. Since you’re far away, it will definitely help to have a large support system and simply informing your co-workers about the situation is a great start. You might even meet another Muslim in your company.