10 Questions NOT to Ask Your Muslim Friends During Ramzan


10 Questions NOT to Ask Your Muslim Friends During Ramzan

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

We’re all in for a month punctuated by late-night feasting and fever dreams involving kebabs and a multitude of meats roasting on a spit, waiting to be devoured with green chutney and onion rings. Yes, it is Ramzan time.

For many of us, Ramzan is more about the feasting than the fasting, but for Muslims the world over, I’d imagine this view of Ramzan would make them want to punch you in the face, especially when the communal table that is our Facebook timelines seems to be groaning under the weight of all that food.

So while it’s definitely not cool to discuss nalli nihari with your hangry colleague at lunch time, there are a bunch of other topics that are definitely not halal during this time of the year – even if you’re curious about them. So in the name of peace and brotherhood, here’s a comprehensive list of remarks you should avoid making around any of your Muslim friends and acquaintances during Ramzan.

1. Ramzan Mubarak! Where’s my biryani?
First of all, kudos for being culturally sensitive enough to acknowledge the start of Ramzan, and secondly fool, you just broke the first rule. Ramzan is a time for feasting for you, but fasting for the faithful. You wouldn’t console someone after getting a divorce and then ask them when they’re remarrying, would you?

Also don’t tag them in that video of you making a pizza topped with nachos and fried chicken. How’d you like it if someone tagged you in a video of a bathtub full of butter chicken during Shravan or Lent?

2. Hey, is this the festival where you kill a goat?
No, that’s Eid al-Adha. The word “Eid” is equated with “festival or celebration”, that’s why there are different Eids like Eid-e-Milad or Mawlid, Eid al-Adha or Bakr-Eid, and Eid al-Fitr or Ramzan Eid. And no, not every Eid requires the ceremonial sacrifice of an animal. (It is a sacrifice, not a killing.) You’re probably watching too much Vikings on Netflix.

They’re not eating, smarty pants. They’d rather conserve their waning energy than expend it answering your stupid questions.

3. Are you fasting this year? Why not?
It’s not a fashion trend that comes on and goes. Fasting during Ramzan is a given for any practising Muslim. Don’t be in someone’s face, demanding to know whether they are fasting or not. If they aren’t there’s probably a deeply personal reason behind it (or not). But is none of your damn business.

4. Do you want to get lunch/dinner/coffee/tea/juice/a cigarette/a doob?
No. If they’re fasting, they cannot get lunch/dinner/coffee/tea/juice/a cigarette/a doob. Yes, even if the doob you’re offering is as natural as water.

5. Hey, can I come over for iftar?
Iftar isn’t the meat-rich, star-studded party it’s made out to be. It can be as simple as a few dates and some water. Also it’s a deeply personal time for family and close friends – not the Baba Siddiqui-hosted spectacles you see in Bombay Times. Being the big-hearted bunch they are, you might shame some of your Muslim friends into inviting you. Try waiting for the invitation though.

6. Do you feel weak?
Yes. They’re not eating, smarty pants. They’d rather conserve their waning energy than expend it answering your stupid questions. Do you feel invigorated when you leave for office in a rush without grabbing breakfast?

7. How is it fasting if you eat at night?
It’s an intermediate fast, meant for prayer and introspection as you go about your day without making a big deal about it, not a hunger strike to make the government relent and give into your demands. Don’t mix the two.

8. Isn’t fasting old-fashioned? I thought you were “too fast” to fast.
What’s the definition of being “too fast”? Just because someone listens to metal does not mean their “too fast”. Just the way fasting does not make one “old-fashioned”. Fasting during Ramzan is steeped in tradition, probably the only thing keeping us from devolving into poop-flinging monkeys. Stop judging, people.  

9. Don’t you cheat-eat? What difference will one chip make?
Questions like these are why you’ve probably never had a stable, long-term relationship in your life. If they chose to make a desi version of Cheaters, you’d probably be up there trying to justify how getting to second base with your SO’s BFF isn’t cheating.

10. Isn’t this a great way to lose some weight?
Au contraire, amateur Micky Mehta, people actually put on more weight during Ramzan despite not eating all day. Iftar food is almost always designed to stick to your ribs and stay there. Plus, the odd eating hours and disrupted sleep don’t help either. Your fitness advice is best reserved for gym bros with half a brain and a protein shake.

There are many other questions which are variations of the above, so use your noggin and these pointers to not be a douchebag to your hungry homies as they try to make it through the next thirty-odd days. For your good deeds and for staying out of their hair, they just might be kind enough to reward you with some bomb-ass biryani. Now who doesn’t like that?