Tuesday, August 16, 2011


It's been two weeks now since Ramadhan or the Holy Month of Fasting began. In the Sultanate, which is predominantly comprised of Muslims, most people have started to fast. In our office alone, my Muslim officemates don't eat during lunch or even drink for the whole day. Interestingly, Muslims wake up as early as 3 in the morning to pray and break their fast. Then, at night, Muslims would pray at 6 in the evening and eat right after.

Fasting or Ramadhan is a very interesting religious practice among Muslims. The way I see it, it really takes a lot of commitment and sacrifice to undergo the ritual. By merely imagining that absence of food and water intake from 6 in the morning until 6 in the evening, you may get to understand how you could look up on the tradition. 

In observance of the fasting month, it is important that non-Muslims should comply accordingly. Especially for foreigners like me, being sensitive and respectful to the practices and the people are significant. In this time of Ramadhan, there are social guidelines that a non-Muslim must at least follow. Read on.

While non-Muslims are allowed to eat during the fasting month, respect should never be forgotten. Eating while walking in streets or in front of a Muslim colleague should be avoided. In respect with the people and culture, it is just improper to show off your food to a Muslim who is fasting.

Gossips are not allowed during the fasting month. Given this, it would be proper to not distract your Muslim colleagues or friends by initiating gossips. As such, boisterous laughter and flirtatious giggles should be pacified.

Non-Muslims are allowed to dress the way they want it; whether one wants to fashion in tight, sexy or simply jaw-dropping clothing. However, during the fasting month, dressing down in respect of fasting Muslims should be observed. As they say, Ramadhan is a reflective time among Muslims. And so, sensitivity helps to support Muslims in their quest toward spiritual abundance.

Apart from dressing down and observing proper gestures during the holy month, a non-Muslim must at least be patient in dealing with Muslims. It is best to understand that the absence of food and water intake could contribute in a lethargic response or thinking. However, religious practices should not also be made as an excuse to be unprofessional. Along the process, understanding and focus should at least be centralized.

Interestingly, during the month of Ramadhan, Sahur (Morning Meal) and Sungkai (Evening Meal) are one of the highlights. A Muslim wakes up as early as 3 in the morning to eat a hefty meal (Sahur) and in the evening, around 6, a Muslim breaks the fasting (Sungkai).

Sahur and Sungkai are not exclusive for Muslims. Non-Muslims like us also try the religious practice. In my case, I try Sungkai. I can't try Sahur because I'm not serious on fasting and I exercise as early as 5:30 in the morning.

Just last week, my officemates and I had our first Sungkai for the month of Ramadhan. We ate at Coffee Zone with a per head fee of BND9.90 or around 300 pesos.

Sungkai is designed in a buffet set-up. My advice, to truly enjoy a sungkai feast, it is advisable for a non-Muslim to at least "fast" a bit on the day that a Sungkai is scheduled. Well, with some hungry feeling in your tummy before the festivity, you can get and eat more.

Going early in a Sungkai is very important. While most restaurant observe Sungkai and a reservation is required by most restaurants, take note that seats are not reserved. The reservation is just for the restaurants to know on how many heads shall come in the Sungkai. Given this, it is best to come early. Plus, coming early can spare you from the traffic and the parking problems.
Me and my colleagues!

My first Sungkai for this year is simple yet I got good value for my money. Despite my strict diet as imposed by my nagiinarteng Uric Acid, I am able to enjoy the food ranging from salads, buttermilk chicken, rice, veggies, and the usual Malay cuisine with beef and fish. On top of that, I enjoyed the desserts. There was a mini chocolate fountain. Seriously, my colleagues and I went back twice just to scoop marshmallows and bananas!
My plate!

Love the Dessert!

Although I enjoyed the food fest, experiencing a Sungkai once, twice or thrice for a non-Muslim like me is O-kay already. Apart from thinking of the budget, eating too much at night is not for me. As you all know, I easily get fat. On top of that, I don't think that eating "fabulously" at night could be unhealthy as all the fats, cholesterol and sugar pile up without being turned into energy; unless one walks or do some calorie-burning routine. I guess, we can still enjoy a feast at night if only we can incorporate healthy meals.

I salute the Muslims on their strict observance of their religious practice. It really takes focus and dedication to fast for a month. However, one must not forget about taking care of oneself. While everyone can enjoy a feast at night, healthy eating should at least be considered.

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