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Why fast during Ramadan if one is non-Muslim?

Buka puasa! (© Amrufm | Flickr)

Buka puasa! (© Amrufm | Flickr)

HOW many non-Muslims do you know who fast during Ramadan? And why would they?

So far, I’ve found two non-Muslims who are conscientiously fasting the whole of Ramadan. Of these two, one fasts the Muslim way, eating only at sahur and iftar in accordance with the Muslim prayer times. The other doesn’t follow the fasting timetable and does a partial fast of eating only one meal a day at dinner.

There were more I spoke to who said they fast but only for a day or two out of the entire month of Ramadan. For this, what I call the “casual” group, fasting usually means skipping lunch and only eating in the evening, usually because a buka puasa buffet feast with Muslim friends has been planned in advanced.

The reasons for non-Muslims fasting during Ramadan included a) wanting a personal challenge, b) to accompany Muslim friends or colleagues, or c) to show solidarity.

Showing solidarity. Er, but why?

(© zainiabdullahpjk@zakulaan | Flickr)

[email protected] | Flickr)

It’s “to show solidarity” which intrigues me the most. I’ve found that overall, among non-Muslims who’ve fasted during Ramadan whether conscientiously or casually, “solidarity” was the first thing off the top of their heads when I asked why they did it.

And yet, just what does “showing solidarity” mean in our context where Muslims and Malay Malaysians are the majority? And where non-Muslims have to abide, not by choice but by decree, to various directives such as a ban on new non-Muslim clubs in schools and a ban on using the word “Allah” when it isn’t exclusive to Islam?

Or where non-Muslims have no say in the unilateral conversion of children if one’s spouse converts to Islam, and have to give up burial rights over a deceased Muslim family member’s body? Why should solidarity be shown with the majority if such are the circumstances for the minority?

Unpacking solidarity

Maybe I am totally wrong in looking at solidarity this way. Maybe I am taking politics too personally. But I think, after awhile, even the toughest of cynics cannot help but feel disheartened and resentful of the frequent labelling of non-Malay Malaysians, and by extension, non-Muslims, as “pendatang”, as ingrates, and as plotters who will one day take over the country.

As if to reinforce the position of non-Muslim citizens in Malaysia, the cow-head protestors were merely fined RM1,000 for illegal assembly, no charges were pressed against the Al-Islam magazine reporters, and a police report has now been lodged against a church for staging a play during Ramadan.

How do I not let such insults and disrespect eat into me? One could say that it’s all just political posturing or media spin. And yes, that may be true but only some of the time.

Ahmad Ismail (source: Oriental Daily), against a map of Malaya (public domain. Source: wikipedia.org)

What about the times lesser-known figures like Datuk Ahmad Ismail, Datuk Nasir Safar, and most recently, a school principal in Kulaijaya, Johor, said similar things about non-Malay and non-Muslim Malaysians? These incidents suggest that it isn’t always just politics; that such views do have currency on the ground. Maybe Utusan Malaysia is merely reinforcing is subscribers’ perceptions.  Maybe Perkasa is just echoing the voice of its 200,000 members.

Confused, I asked two non-Muslims who fast during Ramadan why they do it and what they get out of it. It’s best to let their own words speak for themselves.

Tricia Yeoh, Selangor state government researcher:

“I observe the full fast timetable, waking up for sahur at dawn and breaking fast at iftar in the evening.

“Despite the fact that we [in Malaysia] are so exposed to different communities, many of us either can’t be bothered or don’t have the initiative to truly take the effort to understand the other.

“I don’t think [the question of solidarity with the majority or minority] matters. As a human being, my commitment and my responsibility is to do what I can to understand people and the environment around me.

(pic courtesy of Tricia Yeoh)

Tricia Yeoh (pic courtesy of Tricia Yeoh)

“I want to know what makes people tick. And in order to do that, you have to enter into their world. Obviously [Ramadan] will not mean the same thing for me as it does for them because I lack the spiritual element which Muslims apply to it, but the physical fast is the extent to which I can enter into their world.

“[Disciplining the body also] makes you question whether there are other excesses I don’t need. It gets you focused on what’s important in life and often that comes back to the communal aspect of coming together as a family or as a people. I wake up for sahur alone in my house as I’m the only one in my family doing it, but knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of families all doing the same thing at the same time is special. As much as possible, I try to break fast with others who are Muslims.

“The communal experience is a beautiful thing that we sometimes lose in an increasingly individualistic society. But if we were to think bigger, then communal also means looking out for the nation’s best interests. Those who are fasting should be reminded that there’s a greater purpose out there and the borders between races ought to thin. It’s all the more essential for everyone to step into the shoes of the ‘other’ in this time and age. We all have to make these efforts, these baby steps.”

Dr Ong Kian Ming, political analyst and USCI lecturer:

“I don’t follow the fasting timetable strictly. I fast in the sense that I eat only one meal a day at dinner. It’s to stand in solidarity with Muslims and it is also good discipline for me. It’s about learning to control my physical appetite and is the part of Ramadan I find attractive — learning to mengawal nafsu, or controlling one’s desires.

Ong Kian Ming

Ong Kian Ming

“Showing solidarity is basically about just trying to understand my Muslim friends better. I’ve always been inspired by the book To Kill a Mockingbird, about standing in somebody’s shoes and seeing life from their point of view. It’s something we should all do, to understand and sensitise ourselves to others.

“Extending these ideas about controlling desires and understanding the other to a national level, I think we ought to fast from the desire to be accusatory of each other and instead try to see things from each other’s perspective.

“I also have a personal dimension to fasting and I’m fasting for Sarawak because of several issues — state elections might be held soon, the bumiputera rural population there have been severely neglected, and I’m fasting as a way of hoping that change will come for these people. I try to accompany my fast with prayer and to give to charity whatever money I save from not eating.”

Pockets of hope

I’m still not fully convinced about the need to show solidarity if that is the reason for participating in a Ramadan fast as a non-Muslim. Maybe I am selfish and want some kind of reciprocation in understanding, or I unnecessarily attach too much political baggage to the idea of adopting aspects of the dominant culture and religion.

I do agree, however, that it is important to step into the shoes of the other. And maybe the value of fasting and breaking fast with Muslim friends is to at least remember that despite the prevailing national rhetoric, there are still pockets of hope where genuine interfaith friendships exist.

Deborah Loh is coordinating a reader-contributed photo gallery for The Nut Graph on the breaking of fast by multi-racial and multi-religious groups. Readers are invited to send in photos of themselves with friends or family of other races and religions at a buka puasa during the current Ramadan period.

E-mail a photo with your name, city and the names of others in the photo to [email protected]. Please also indicate which person you are in the photo. Contributions must be sent in by 30 Aug 2010 and will be published as a photo gallery before the end of Ramadan.

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33 Responses to “Why fast during Ramadan if one is non-Muslim?”

  1. IHSAN says:

    I agree that to better understand one another we should sometimes try to stand in each other’s shoes. And I agree it’s one problem when everything seems one sided, where non-Muslims are supposed to understand the Muslims and the other way round is discouraged. I imagine myself going to non-Muslim places of worship and be frowned upon by my community if I were to be discovered.

    What’s wrong with trying to see things from others’ point of view? In my case, I feel that I have a strong enough foundation in my own faith for me to freely mingle around people of other faiths and cultures and join in their activities without having to worry about becoming ‘sesat’. I personally promote fasting during Ramadan for non-Muslim. I remember giving up something I liked during Lent back in the States, just to join some of my Catholic/Christian friends. It’s by immersing oneself in the experience of others that one can better understand others’ faith, culture and point of views.

  2. Lee C says:

    I always have a feeling that the non-Muslims in this country have been spiritually so beaten up that we are always trying to ‘please’ the Muslims. To an extent that we always try to hide things that seem to offend our Muslim brothers [and sisters] and doing yet other things to please them.

    I am not saying we should not practise tolerance, but a person who cannot walk tall and feels subservient is a person in self pity.

    On the other hand, are the Muslim community showing any effort to reciprocate the effort? If not, it is just a waste of time as one hand cannot clap. Solidarity is probably just an excuse to show such self pity.

    • Yee says:

      True. A lot of people are always worried that whatever they do might spur conflicts with Muslims, only intensified given the rampant double standards practiced by authorities as well as extreme level of intolerance of some quarters in this country. Degrading others’ background and enforcing one’s own values harping on sensitivities are downright hegemonic and selfish and are definitely against foundation of our colourful society built on plurality.

      I for one is proud of my own Chinese heritage, and I’m not going to tailor it just to suit some other culture’s liking.

  3. nonmalay muslim says:

    If you cant understand why non-Muslims fast with Muslims, why not try it yourself, not accompanying the Muslims, but accompanying the non-Muslims who fast.

    But did you ever joined the Ramadan buka puasa buffet at hotels and restaurants with Muslim friends? If you did, how does it feel? Good? So-so? You don’t like it? Only u know your answer. You can see how the Muslims’ faces are when they look at their food with patience and eagerness just to wait till the break fast. Besides patience, Muslims learn humility during Ramadan. Not all of them. Your view to this matter has too much political inclinations, you aren’t aware that fasting makes us realise how are the poor eat everyday. Probably just like Muslims fasting during Ramadan, but the poor [are like] that the whole year round. The poor are not Muslims only, they are [all over] the world [and are a]large percentage. For us Malaysians we are glad to celebrate Hari Raya after fasting a month. How about the poor? They don’t even know how to type keyboards! Don’t even think about getting a new baju raya.

    And you [are] still not convinced. From my perspective, you are not truly Malaysian, nor a humble kind of person. You cant recognise humility. What a shame!

    Btw, I’m the guy in the first picture.

    • Lee C says:

      Young man, you are right that there is nothing to do with religion but all with politics. To be fair, all religions preach good but politics in this country is so hurtful that one would wonder if all the good things religions preached are really practised. When one can fast ‘faithfully’ one moment and wage a war the next to subdue you into submission, do you think the fasting has done him any good? It is easy to pretend but hard to practise!
      Whether I am a true Malaysian, you as a young man, still fed by the society supported by our generation’s hard work, are not qualified to comment. In the years to come, show me that you are a true Malaysian by contributing to and growing the country, and not expecting other fellow countrymen to feed you! The rest is just rhetoric and does not bring food to the table.

  4. Andrew Khoo says:

    Within Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, there is quite a strong continuing tradition of fasting and praying during the 40-day period of Lent prior to Easter. Also, in recent years there has been a good practice amongst Christians in Malaysia of praying and fasting for a period of 40 days ending with Merdeka Day on August 31. You may want to write about these things if you are doing further instalments of your story.

    Andrew Khoo

  5. Sheema says:

    Hmm, I think ‘solidarity’ in this context need not necessarily mean in an ethno-political sense. It could just be in an emotional or psychological sense, e.g. you have good friends who are Muslim and you sympathise with the hardships they go through when fasting, so instead of going ahead and enjoying your food and drink while they suffer, you choose instead to support them by fasting along with them.

    Bear in mind, not all Muslims actually LIKE to fast, or to be prohibited from eating in public places. This is one example of an ironic situation where the government actively discriminates AGAINST the majority. Muslims can be victims of ‘The Man’ too, you know!

  6. Lainie says:

    I’ve fasted a few times over the years, for various reasons.

    The first was because my friends were doing it (which made it easier, knowing I wouldn’t be alone), and the concepts were curious to my young self.
    The most I got from that was a consciousness of privilege. Especially how my position generally allowed me to think and talk and consume as I wanted.

    The last time I fasted was a few years ago, and there was a charity tied in with it (someone found out and asked me to participate). This was the most difficult because it was no longer for myself (politically incorrect as that may be), and it attracted antagonism.

    My non-Muslim friends almost bordered on hostile in trying to batal my fast, at one point physically dragging me off just so they could eat, smoke, and drink in front of me, hoping I’d lose my temper. It was a reminder that it was easy to ridicule what we are not familiar with.

    As in anything we do, I think it’s possible to learn something from each. While I learned from the self-awareness and discipline that comes with it, I don’t think I’ll be fasting again for years to come.

    I don’t really think solidarity works as a reason for me — at this point, I’d rather read and understand more about their religion. Still, fasting has its purposes, and Ramadan is an easier time to do it.

  7. dee says:

    Yes, I do believe the author is attaching too much political baggage to the idea of fasting. There must be a clear understanding that religion and politics should be separated even if it is not in our Malaysian lives.

    The fact remains that lots of religion do have their own version of fasting be it Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism…

    So… fasting during Ramadhan is like doing it while others are doing as well. I see it as such kind of solidarity, that as people of different religion, I would be fasting and attaching my own religion’s version of it but the aim is to fast for the same goal.

    • Hang Tuah says:

      Dee: Not sure which Malaysian Government you are living under. But the Malaysian Government under which I live does not separate politics from religion (both Islam and other religions). It actively mixes the two to perpetuate its “divide & rule” strategy which it inherited and further refined from its colonial masters.

      In Islam there is no separation of state from mosque. Even our Constitution is misused, misinterpreted and amended to justify the unconstitutional view of some that Malaysia is an “Islamic state”, whatever that means. So like it or not, religion comes with political baggage in the Malaysia I live in.

      While I applaud any attempts to “walk in someone else’s shoes” at a personal level, it needs to be a two way-street. Would love to see my Muslim brethren refrain from consuming beef or better still, go vegetarian, during Divali and Wesak.

      • Ellese A says:

        Hang tuah

        Can’t understand where you’re coming from and what values you’re holding?what’s your stand? Should we have an Islamic state or not? Or do you believe religion should be separated from the running of the nation? What’s an Islamic state to you?

  8. Laych Koh says:

    When I do fast during Ramadan, it is actually for spiritual reasons. In any case, I think what people choose to do in matters of faith or spiritual/religious practice is entirely up to them. The solidarity point is a bonus, and the reciprocal point is just insulting.

  9. mnz says:

    Deborah,
    You know, there’s something about Christianity that some Muslims, including me, are envious of – that there are the good, the really good among you who’s really willing to forgive, who’s willing to do things if it means the betterment for society, *regardless* of religion or creed, without asking for anything much material in return. One name that come to mind is Mother Teresa; I have her poem here on the wall of my office:

    People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
    Forgive them anyway.
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
    Be kind anyway.
    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
    Succeed anyway.
    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
    Be honest and frank anyway.
    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
    Build anyway.
    If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
    Be happy anyway.
    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
    Do good anyway.
    Give the world the best you have and it may just never be enough;
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

    You see, in the final analysis, it’s all between you and God;
    It was never between you and them anyway.

  10. Atticus says:

    Deborah – You’re unnecessarily overplaying the politics here. Just read what Tricia Yeoh and Ong Kian Ming were trying to tell you.

  11. Anonymous Coward says:

    So… you take an act that’s meant to bridge cultures and twist it into a political statement? Sometimes doing something for the hell of it is just doing something for the hell of it.

    Your anger is misdirected.

  12. JayCKat says:

    You know what, on a normal day, I skip breakfast and lunch. I only eat dinner, which I get after 8pm.

    In effect I have been fasting every day for the last 7 years. How off is that? And yes, I am a sad workaholic. Lunch break is too much a disruption to the my work flow.

    • Fern says:

      But you fast for different motives than the Muslims and the non-Muslims who fast for whatever noble reasons they may have. It’s different. You don’t eat because you don’t want to. Not for religion (or else, the time that you “save” from not eating would be devoted to prayer, not work) or to step into your Muslim friends’ shoes.

  13. PH Chin says:

    Different people fast for different reasons.

    Religious people fast for spiritual reason.

    Some people fast for health reasons.

    And others fast for certain causes or missions.

    But for whatever reason, fasting is good for the body, soul and spirit.

  14. shahi esfelazi says:

    I dont understand the writer? Is this really necessary? I am a Muslim & Malay like other Muslims & Malays I celebrate Christmas, Deepavali and CNY. I dont like it when other Muslims question me why I do it and I dont like seeing when the same questions pops up for my non-muslim friends either (unless its done in good faith).

    So what? I do what I want to do lah. Fasting is not a bad, people do it because of spiritual reasons, some do it cause its just what they do every year and some wants to diet. It doesn’t matter who and why someone wants to do something (as long as they don’t hurt other people).

    Its really not necessary to question the reasoning of such solidarity. If I was in the UK I would caught in the 2 months of myrrh and merry of X’mas and New Year. Actually I still get caught up with the same celebrations in Malaysia.

    This article does prove something, Malaysia (even with its Muslim Majority) is becoming more democratic and more open. Even though there’s much noise on either side of the divide saying they don’t have enough “the rakyat” should be mature enough to know whether its political or just plain greed. Yes there is much change to do, but lets do it in good faith.

    Here’s for honest change and a better Malaysia, I also wish everyone, All Malaysians a Happy Ramadan and a Happy Merdeka Month!

    • Saini says:

      I agree with shahi.. Its really not necessary to question the reasoning of such solidarity.

      Why is it such a big deal to you, Ms Deborah Loh? Really, do you get this uptight when a Muslim celebrates CNY, Christmas, Deepavali, Diwali, Gawai, Kaamatan, etc etc?

      Come Lent, I give something up. Yes, (re: Mr Hang Tuah) as a Muslim, I have also gone vegetarian during Wesak week. Why do I do it? Because I bloody love my friends. It shows solidarity and support. Besides, I’ve always wanted to eat healthier but no motivation to do it. Although it’s not being done in a spiritual level, it does show how much I give a great deal of respect to my friends. My friends get a kick out of it when I join them! Will you berate me if I continue doing this for the rest of my life?

      What if my non-Muslim friends don’t fast?? I don’t care. Why should they? They’re NOT expected to. But if they do, well hey, welcome.. it’s all the more fun. I do it for spiritual reasons, they do it for the fun of testing themselves and rewarding themselves during a buka puasa feast? Maybe it makes it easier for them to lose a few pounds? No kawan to lunch with?? Why can’t you just take it at face value that people like Tricia Yeoh and Ong Kian Ming see past all the political attachment?

      With this post, you are just trying to create tension where there is none. Do you think I don’t feel insulted (like you feel) FOR all the non-Muslims???? Do you think I don’t feel like those cow-headed morons should rot in jail?? Do you think I don’t worry about how people like you promote a divide and mock people who show solidarity? From this post, I derive how resentful you are to people who “give face” to the Malays/Muslims.

      You dissect and pick and do a post mortem just because non-Muslims are fasting for the heck of it. Because you can’t seem to believe that there are non-Muslims who want to respect their Muslim friends despite all the political hoolabaloo going on.

      You are no better than those Perkasa members who get mad, confused and insulted at other “sesat” Muslims for respecting and defending the right of other non-Muslims.

      Really just look at it. It’s an issue for you that non-Muslims fast in the name of showing solidarityy. It’s an issue for Perkasa that a Christian play is held in the month of Ramadhan. Yes, I am lumping you with them because these should NOT be an issue in the first place.

      I have been surrounded by wonderful people of different cultures and religion all of my life. My pocket of hope?? I hope our bond stands the test of time.. and the test of people like you who are trying to put a wedge between us.

  15. Ellese says:

    I think we must try NOT to see things politically all the time. We interpret things from our narrow political perspective of actions of others who have no political motivations. We see shadows lurking everywhere when there’s none. It’s a great tragedy of our nation where we spent so much time and effort chasing these shadows when there are none; just for the sake of satisfying our wrath, pride and envy.

    • Hang Tuah says:

      Can you please enlighten us how NOT to see things politically all the time when we keep re-electing the same government that keeps politicising all our differences (including religious ones) all the time?

      Islam itself doesn’t separate religion from political or personal life.

      • Ellese A says:

        Dear hang tuah,

        You are a funny person. Not sure how deep is your Islamic knowledge but your arguments seemed general. My main aim of criticism is as a person we should run away from zan/dzon. Deborah is doing this when she sees other non-Muslims fasting. The other non-Muslims have good intentions but because of her prejudiced background she’s questioning everything that others are doing. You too fall within this. What’s your Islamic basis to say that I’m wrong?

        Perhaps I take your argument up one level because you seemed to be arguing on an Islamic basis. Do you agree with hudud and Islamic state? Do you agree then in Islam there’s no separation of religion and state and thus you must support an Islamic state? Answer this. Otherwise I think you are a person who likes to use general Islamic argument without much knowledge.

  16. Ellese says:

    Dear Deborah,

    To be frank I find your article very disturbing. It shows intolerence for empathy. You seemed to continuously relate all your dislike, resentment and hatred and form views from this basis. It’s sad for you seemed to have closed your heart and mind to even goodness and virtue. Everything you see emanates from this dislike, resentment or hatred. You must extricate yourself from this view otherwise you will not be able to see the difference between true and false and between right and wrong.

    I’ve just seen a rerun of Godfather and one statement by Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) to his protege is apt as a guide. He said:

    “You never hate your enemies. You know why? It clouds your judgment.”

    I hate to think this. But it’s a tragedy in our nation that many of us are so imbued with hatred, resentment and deep dislike of the other that we can’t seem to appreciate the virtue and goodness of others. Never a day we don’t dig deeper into a hole that makes us further apart. Your suggestion castigating non-Muslims who fast base on solidarity will further divide us. When we should be building for our children we spend more time digging our grave. Why? Because our resentment, dislike and hatred has clouded our judgment and moral compass.

    • Hang Tuah says:

      Ellese: Can you point out exactly where in Deborah’s article does the she castigate non-Muslims for showing solidarity with Muslims? She only contrasted her personal atttitude against those of Ong Kian Ming’s and Tricia Yeoh’s.

      She even ends her article with the following, “I do agree, however, that it is important to step into the shoes of the other. And maybe the value of fasting and breaking fast with Muslim friends is to at least remember that despite the prevailing national rhetoric, there are still pockets of hope where genuine interfaith friendships exist.”

      If that’s your definition of castigation, you really need to grow a thicker skin…

      • Ellese A says:

        Are you supportive of Deborah’s argument that it’s wrong to do things based on solidarity? Don’t you think Deborah’s argument is a dangerous precedent? What’s your stand?

        • dirty fly says:

          We would be in state of denial if we think non-Muslims fast solely for spiritual reason. Nonetheless, I see no problem if non-Muslims fast out of the desire to seek solidarity. I only see efforts to make friends and make peace.

          I’m not Muslim and as usual non-Muslims will not be in the position to comment about Muslim and their religion.

          Frankly speaking, many non-Muslims are always wanting to respect Muslim friends. We don’t eat pork in front of them, we don’t ask about their religion even if we are curious because some see questions as questioning their faith.

  17. Jayz says:

    I am not Muslim, I don’t fast because it’s not my faith.

    I don’t need to cross myself, clasp my hands, fall to my knees and pray, to feel more aligned with my Christian brothers [and sisters]… burn incense and chant to be more in tune with my Buddhist brothers [and sisters]… and I don’t need to fast to respect my Islamic brothers [and sisters]. All I need to do is respect them and their beliefs, and expect the same in return.

    But several people commenting here are quite right… what should be a two-way street has one lane blocked! I would hope that you would respect my right NOT to fast, in the same way that I wouldn’t invite you over to my pig-roast!

  18. arah says:

    O you who believe! Fasting is presribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.
    [Al-Baqarah, 2:183]

    It has been well said that prayer is not preparation for the battle -prayer IS the battle. And of all the things we can do to enhance the power and focus of prayer, fasting is doubtless the most potent.

    This is where the power is at, because fasting puts us in harmony with an All Powerful Almighty God who demands humility from those who wish to be close to Him. Fasting humbles the flesh. When it is done for that purpose, it pleases the Spirit of God.

    You can go a certain distance in God, and experience many things, without fasting much, but the highest, richest and most powerful blessings always go to those who together with other disciplines, fast much unto God. The most significant Biblical characters, were all men of fasting and prayer. Jesus, was a man of fasting and prayer (Matthew 4:2). Moses fasted 80 days. Elijah fasted 40 days.

    The early church fasted before starting any major work. The greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century who are making an impact are all men of fasting of prayer to my knowledge. Anyone who started a significant spiritual movement in Christianity was, to the best of my knowledge – Luther, Wesley, Finney, Booth were all men of fasting. In our day, Cho, Bonnke, Osborn, Annacondia are all men of much fasting. If done right, fasting counts a lot with God.

    Ezra the priest fasted for God’s protection while carrying valuable things for God’s temple. We too can fast for God’s protection. (Ezra 8:21-23)

    Daniel the prophet fasted for the fulfilment of God’s promises, and received mighty revelations from God. (Daniel 10:3).

    Jesus fasted and spoke the Word of God to overcome Satan (See Matthew 4:1-10; Luke 4:1-13).

    Jesus fasted to begin his public ministry, and have the power of God and the anointing. (Luke 4:14).

    Elijah needed to fast 40 days before he heard God’s voice again. (1 Kings 19:8)

    Moses fasted to receive the Ten Commandments and the Law of God, and to see God’s glory and goodness.

    The elders, prophets and teachers in Antioch fasted and ministered to God, which resulted in the launching of Paul and Barnabas’ apostolic ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2,3). Likewise we should fast and pray before getting involved in full time ministry and mission work.

    Jesus says to us in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast…” not “If you fast”. A true disciple of the Lord will fast at times.

    God made it clear through the prophet Joel that the last days outpouring of the Spirit will be in proportion to our fasting and crying out to God in humility, hunger and repentance. (Joel 1:5; Joel 2:12).

    Even wicked King Ahab’s fast moved God so that he did not bring full judgment down on him in his own lifetime (1 Kings 21:27).

    It is ashamed to be called oneself a follower of Jesus if you don’t fast 40 days as practised by Jesus

  19. Ujian says:

    Kalau tidak kerana Kepercayaan atau Agama, kalau anda berpuasa maka anda meyeksa diri sendiri dan sekira anda percaya kepada Tuhan atau “Super Power” yang membuat anda, maka anda adalah melakukan kesalahan kerana anda merosak/meyeksa ciptaannya walaupun anda menyeksa diri sendiri. Kerana yang membuat anda ialah Tuhan anda “Super Power Anda”

  20. muslim says:

    Why fast? Why do Muslims fast? Do you actually know? Is it a must for non-Muslims to fast during Ramadan? Certainly NO. No one is asking you to participate or is seeking solidarity from you. You can eat anything you like in front of us. Who the heck cares about you? We would see it as normal thing for non-Muslims to do, and treat it as a test to us fasting Muslims. It’s just ethics! Heck, even some Muslims ignore the fasting rules during Ramadan.

    For those non-Muslims who respect us and some who even fast together with us, I salute you. I believe those who fast and follow the Musilm fasting way, they just want to have that Ramadan feel with their Muslim friends and get the benefit out of fasting. Wanna know its benefit? Ask Uncle Google.

  21. Arlene Tan says:

    Dear Deborah and the Nut Graph,

    I always enjoy reading the articles from the Nut Graph because I find a lot of its articles are balanced and provide insight about the issues in Malaysia.

    But unfortunately, for Deborah, I find your article lacked intellectual depth, sounds more like a childish write up by a shallow minded racist. It sounds like you are speaking for the non-Muslim, but the truth is, you only speak for yourself and the few bunch of bone heads like you. I would love to suggest you to form a Perkasa for people like you, and probably Ibrahim Ali can be a great mentor and give you some tips on making such ridiculous statement about racial/religion issues. Eg. Ibrahim Ali once wrote an article asking the Chinese ‘what else do u want from the Malays? Enough is enough!’ So Deborah, ypu could probably write the same thing about the ‘non-Muslims’ to the Malays too.

    Btw, if Malays are the problem, then Ibrahim Ali would have a vast number of members in Perkasa (considering Malays are 60% and growing). But the truth is, the normal Abu and Ahmad and Minah do not care the hell with Perkasa, to them he’s a lone outdated voice in a society that has grown out from such hypocrisy. Hello, in the age of internet and globalization, there’s more other (fun) things to do than (racial) politics.

    For the Nut Graph, credibility is important, if such similar article appear again in this website, I doubt that you really represent the voice of Malaysia. Enough said.

  22. ficklefellow says:

    During the Ramadan month few years back, I decided to grab a quick bite on my sandwich while waiting for the train to arrive at an LRT station. Noticing a Pak Cik beside me, I instinctively felt apologetic and said, ‘Maaf ye. Pak Cik kisah tak kalau saya makan kejap?’

    No sooner had I finished, the pakcik said something about how he wasn’t comfortable sitting beside me, got up and walked away.

    Don’t get me wrong. I highly respect those who are fasting. But I sometimes wonder – is eating in plain sight of observing the fast a sign of disrespect?

    In any case, your the honest reflection and thought provoking questions are much appreciated. It was helpful to hear from Tricia and KM on what motivated them too. Thanks Deborah and Selamat Berpuasa to all!


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