10 Things People Always Seem To Get Wrong About Ramadan

Photo: Getty Images.
Ramadan is a month-long holiday when Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset, and really focus on deepening our connection with God. And between strengthening our faith, asking for forgiveness, and dealing with the logistics of daily fasting, the holiday can take up a lot of time and energy.
Plus, now that Ramadan falls during the summer months, many of us are balancing work, school, social lives, a crazy upside-down sleep schedule, and going without water during the hottest days of the year (the lack-of-water struggle is real).
On top of all that, during the month of Ramadan, we also tend to spend a lot of time explaining what the holiday is to non-Muslim friends and co-workers. So, to make it a little easier on us all, here are a few common questions and misconceptions about Ramadan that come our way — and the truth behind them.
1 of 10
How do you fast for 30 days?!

Well, it’s just the will of God.

Just kidding!

Muslims don’t fast for 30 days straight — trust me, with the amount of Samosas and tea with biscuits we eat, we wouldn’t last a day. We only fast from sunrise to sunset each day, which turns many Muslims into midnight snackers for 30 days. Depending on where you are in the world, the time you’re fasting can range from 11 hours to a whopping 20 hours each day.
2 of 10
You don’t even drink water?

Nope. Fasting during the month of Ramadan means no voluntary eating or drinking of anything. The purpose of this is to practice self-control and to be humbled by where you are in life – if you’re thirsty and you prohibit yourself from drinking clean water, trust me when I say it makes you feel very grateful for having regular access to clean water (which isn’t the case for too many people in this world).
3 of 10
Wait, but wasn’t Ramadan in, like, July last year?

Yes, it was! Islam runs on the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, so the holiday’s date changes from year to year, since the lunar calendar is based on cycles of the moon and has its own months. This means that Ramadan (and every other holiday pegged to the lunar calendar) moves forward about 10 days each year.
4 of 10
Why are you at work (or school)? Aren’t you fasting?!

Fasting doesn’t mean that we’re completely incapable of doing anything until the sun sets. Yes, we’re fasting; yes, it can be difficult at times; and yes, I would much rather be in my bed napping. But, aside from the fasting part, that’s not very different from any other time of year, is it? And actually, being at work can make fasting easier in some ways, since it gives us something else to focus on, other than the fact that we’d rather be eating.
5 of 10
Omg, I totally forgot you were fasting. I can’t believe I just ate my whole lunch in front of you.

Sure, that tuna sandwich did look amazing, but honestly, I didn’t want to eat it any more than I would have wanted to during any other time of year. Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean that every time a bag of chips is opened within 20 feet, we’re unable to think of anything else. It’s definitely considerate to be aware that someone around you is fasting, but chances are, the person fasting didn’t even notice or care. You do you, but thank you, anyway!
6 of 10
Wow, so-and-so is Muslim, too, right? She’s not even fasting!

There are a few reasons someone might be able to opt out of fasting during Ramadan, and they have to do with a person’s age, health, and whether or not they’re on their period.

Children are not required to fast until they reach the age of puberty (which varies from person to person), and the elderly can be exempt from fasting if it will take too much of a toll on their health. Those with certain illnesses (which can range from the common cold to diabetes) can also be exempt.

Lastly, if someone’s on their period, they don’t have to fast – which could why so-and-so, who is also Muslim, is sitting at her desk drinking coffee. Leave her be, man.

When someone misses a fast for any reason, they have the option of either making up their fast at a later date or feeding a poor family.
7 of 10
You can eat something — I won’t tell anyone.

Again, Ramadan is all about self-control. I know I can walk to Dunkin Donuts and grab an iced caramel latte at any time. And usually, no one can get in my way when it comes to me getting coffee. But that’s the point! I’m choosing to not indulge myself – it’s between me and God.
8 of 10
Ramadan is only about not eating and drinking, right?

Ramadan is about so much more than that. Not only are Muslims supposed to forego eating and drinking, but we also must prohibit ourselves from doing anything that’s considered harmful or a waste of time. This can include smoking, gossiping, taking medicine, chewing gum, watching too much TV, and reading or looking at inappropriate things (and the list goes on). This month is supposed to be a recharge of your physical body, as well as your spiritual soul.
9 of 10
So, if you’re really, really good this month, you’re allowed to do whatever you want until the next Ramadan?

As fun as that sounds, no. One of the most important things we do during the month of Ramadan is ask God for forgiveness for all that we’ve done during the preceding year. But that doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to try to be our best selves when the holiday is over.

We believe that Satan is locked away during this month, so we now have the liberty to improve ourselves without his distractions and temptations. Ramadan is almost like a month of training and habit-building so that we’re strong enough to continue resisting throughout the year when Satan is on the loose.
10 of 10
What happens after Ramadan is over?

Well, for one, we awkwardly begin getting used to eating during daylight again. We also have a celebration called Eid’al-Fitr where we attend a prayer in the morning, then spend the rest of the day exchanging gifts, dressing up in new clothes, and eating lots of sweets.