A Singaporean Student Celebrates Ramadan In Bangkok For The First Time


Noor Aishah Karim •  Apr 14, 2023

Muslims all over the world use Ramadan as a time for spiritual meditation and self-control. During this time, we pray, fast from dawn to nightfall, and perform deeds of kindness. What happens if you're a Muslim living in a non-Muslim nation? How do you observe Ramadan when it's so difficult to locate halal meals because pork is a main ingredient in many of their recipes? Nazirul Mubin, a Malay-Muslim doing his internship in Bangkok, shares how he celebrates Ramadan this year.

Credit: Nazirul Mubin

Early in the morning, around 3.40 am, Naz starts his day. He gets ready for his morning prayers and keeps a strict fast, ending it at 6.30 p.m.He acknowledges that it can be difficult to maintain your fast throughout the day while everyone else is eating. But what makes it worthwhile is the sense of camaraderie and solidarity with other Muslims who are fasting.

Nazirul occasionally feels like a burden while requesting halal meals because he is the only Muslim Malay intern in the program. He says, "I always ask for it or find alternatives like vegetables and seafood whenever we eat. It can be difficult to find halal food options in Bangkok." Despite the difficulties, he appreciates the friendliness and accommodation of his coworkers and how they are always willing to assist him.

Friday prayers are a unique experience for Naz, and he looks forward to it each week! He tries his best to listen to the Khutbah even though it's in Thai. However, he found the community to be accommodating, and some could even speak Malay.

Credit: Nazirul Mubin

“It was so cool cause they asked me something in Thai, and I told them I couldn't understand, so they asked me if I could speak Malay and directed me instead.”

Naz acknowledges that despite making every effort, it’s hard not to feel FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when watching his friends enjoy Mookata, a well-known pork-based Thai meal. "It's difficult to watch my friends eat things that I am unable to consume. But I'm prepared to make a sacrifice for the sake of my beliefs, he adds with a smile. “Isn't that what Ramadan is, then? Reestablishing our connection to faith.” However, he shares that everyone is very aware of fasting, even the waiter and waitress, and they would try to accommodate him.

Credit: Nazirul Mubin

Despite the challenges, Ramadan in Bangkok has been an eye-opening experience for Naz. He appreciates the availability of prayer spaces throughout the country, which makes it easier for him to perform his prayers on time. Additionally, the Ramadan bazaar in Bangkok at Onnut Bts right in front of Lotus reminds him of home and the bustling night markets in Singapore.

With Hari Raya, the Muslim celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, around the corner, Nazirul is excited to celebrate it in Bangkok. Unfortunately, he cannot visit his relatives due to work. However, he plans to invite his friends over and cook rendang, a traditional Malay dish staple of Hari Raya celebrations. "It's a way for me to share my culture and traditions with my friends, and I love cooking, so it’s a plus," he says.

Credit: Nazirul Mubin

While Naz acknowledges that fasting during Ramadan in Bangkok can be difficult, but Ramadan's sense of belonging and camaraderie makes it all worthwhile. Nazirul's experiences show that despite linguistic and cultural differences, Muslims can come together and assist one another throughout this holy month. No matter where they are in the globe, we hope that other Muslims will be motivated by his experiences to observe Ramadan with excitement and delight.