Hello! I'm Elaine and you probably know me as one of the co-founders of HHWT. I first came to know more about Islam from Suzana, who is my best friend and also a fellow co-founder of HHWT ? We've known each other for 13 years now but interestingly it was when we started travelling together that I started learning about Islam. Spending every waking minute together when we travelled got her to explain to me about halal food, praying and more about the religion in general.
And of course, ever since we started HHWT, I've been learning something new everyday from the team!
As the only non-Muslim in the company, it's been a really interesting experience for me during Ramadan. Here's what I've learned so far from observing my Muslim friends in Ramadan.
1. The first week is the easiest. It's the middle of the month that's always the hardest!
During the first week of Ramadan, everyone's still gung-ho and enthusiastic about fasting, excitedly making plans for iftar with each other and thinking of what to eat. But... the mid-Ramadan slump is real (as is evident in our office, there are people snoozing all over the place ?)!
Taking quick naps will truly be your saviour!
2. The importance of sahur
Do not ever, ever miss sahur. I tried fasting once without eating sahur, and I didn't make it past 3pm ? I was just so sleepy and could feel my body shutting down... I couldn't even continue with my work!
The next time I try fasting with the team, I'll definitely make sure I'll get up in time for a pre-dawn meal!
3. Everything tastes amazing at iftar
Food has never tasted so good.
Ramadan is also about being grateful for what you have. When something as fundamental as food and drink is taken away from you, you'll start to see what a blessing it is to have the luxury of eating your fill when there are so many others around the world who don't have food on their plates on a daily basis.
This month has also taught me more about respecting each other's beliefs, and celebrating joyful moments in our lives together, no matter our race or religion. Like Michelle Obama said:
You might even come to find that we share a lot more in common than differences!
5. The sense of community
Something that really struck me during Ramadan is how there's such a strong sense of community and unspoken camaraderie. Everyone is so welcoming, especially if you want to join them for iftar. Even as a non-Muslim, I feel welcomed by my friends especially when I want to know more or if I want to eat together with them when the time for iftar comes.
It's something that I personally feel is really heartwarming especially when we're in living in such a fast-paced city and often tend to get carried away with work and at times forgetting about spending time with our family. There's just something really nice about coming together and being thankful for those first few morsels of food after a long day of fasting. It's heartening to also see my friends working just as hard during Ramadan even though I know how hungry and tired they must be!
6. It's more than just refraining from drinking and eating
Although the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Ramadan is abstaining from food and drink from sun up to sun down, what amazes me more about fasting is that it goes beyond food and drinks.
While Ramadan definitely makes me think about the relationship that we have with food, it's also about being more mindful of your words and actions, going a little more out of your way to be kinder to others and staying clear of vices. I see my friends trying really hard to be better people during this month even though it can get tough, and it's also a constant reminder to myself!
7. Misunderstandings others have of Ramadan
Despite living in a multi racial country like Singapore, I find that it's quite surprising that many people still do not understand much about Ramadan, even though it's a yearly occurrence. However, it's great that there are increasingly more people wanting to learn more about other religions and cultures ? I'm thankful for being able to be a part of HHWT in the sense that the work that we do is also an avenue for people from all walks of life to open up and learn more about each other. I'm also constantly learning more about the religion every day.
We truly believe that when more Muslims and non-Muslims are able to interact with each other openly and without judgements, there's a lot that we can learn from one another. When it comes down to it, everyone's fundamentals as human beings are the same - to show love to one another, and to treat each other with kindness and respect. I think that it's also a big responsibility for Muslims as well to go out there and be good examples of the faith that they hold.
8. Being your best self
Fasting is truly a test of your willpower, patience and productivity. I think it's really amazing that many Muslims do even more things than they usually do like extra prayers at night, even when you would think that they have less energy from not eating!
It's also about proving to yourself that if you can be a better person throughout the whole month, you can definitely achieve even more throughout the year.
Eid Mubarak everyone and enjoy the celebrations with your loved ones ❤️