I am a Muslim, but I fake fasting in Ramazan

Published: May 24, 2018
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I and many others like me dread Ramazan because it means another month of being dishonest to our Muslim families and friends. PHOTO: GETTY

It’s Ramazan and my mother is in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove preparing a big feast. She’s fasting, even though she is a 64-year-old diabetic. As for myself? Earlier in the day, I had a huge fish and chips platter for lunch, but my Muslim family believes I’m fasting with them.

This has gone on for years.

During the month of Ramazan, most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will observe by basically not partaking in any vice for 30 days. From sunrise to sunset, all able-bodied Muslims are required to “fast”; prohibited from eating, drinking (yes, even water), smoking, cursing, bad-mouthing, and any sexual behaviour.

Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam, and not doing so can not only invite social ridicule within the Muslim community, but in certain Muslim countries can also lead to a fine or even being jailed. Most Muslims look forward to Ramazan every year, because they see it as a religious cleanse that leaves them more pure and sets a tone for the rest of the year.

That’s if you actually believe in the faith and practice it, which I don’t. But the Muslims around me don’t know that.

Unfortunately, I and many others like me dread Ramazan because it means another month of being dishonest to our Muslim families and friends. See, there are many reasons why someone who comes from a Muslim background doesn’t fast during Ramazan. They may still have faith in the religion, but don’t take it as seriously as they should. They might think fasting is more for traditional Muslims, and they consider themselves more of a casual Muslim.

Another reason is they may have completely left the religion, but haven’t “come out” to their Muslim community – something many young people from these backgrounds struggle with, and this is exactly where I fall. Like many other millennials, we just aren’t religious, but we just so happen to come from a religion that is customarily harsher with the idea of apostasy compared to other religions in the West.

This results in an ideological struggle between older and younger generations of Muslims that has even been depicted in recent pop culture, from the bacon eating scene in Aziz Ansari’s Master of None to Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sickwhere his parents disown him because he wants to marry an American white woman. This is happening in many Muslim homes, where first-generation millennials have views on religion that go against the very strict nature Islam can have. We might view ourselves as Muslim by identity, and even speak out against Muslim discrimination, but are far from practicing.

Ramazan for us can be extremely complicated to navigate since it’s so important in Islam. Rather than “coming out” to our family and even friends, we know if we can just get through the month, we’re pretty much good for the rest of the year. Some might fast just for the sake of it with no real spiritual intention; just for show. Others might try their best to avoid their Muslim associates and families altogether.

But probably the most insincere practice is what I call “fake fasting” – acting like you’ve been fasting all day and “breaking your fast” at night, as if you weren’t eating double cheeseburgers and chugging Diet Cokes all day. Many do this in order to keep the façade going; that they are still a practicing Muslim. This is done only to avoid cruel judgment from other Muslims and is totally not the point of fasting during Ramazan, which is actually supposed to be a spiritual journey of struggle in order to come closer to God.

Hiding the fact I’m not fasting from the Muslims around me was difficult at first, but it’s a skill I’ve now fine-tuned. It all really depends on the size of the town you live in and how many Muslims are in it – the smaller the town, the more challenging. If you’re bound to run into a Muslim you know, you certainly don’t want to be caught holding a Starbucks caramel latte during the day. They’ll give you a piercing look of judgment, followed by disappointment.

I’ve had times where I literally looked left and right before drinking water while driving around my mid-size suburban hometown during the day. When I go out for lunch, I always make sure to eat at restaurants Muslims wouldn’t be anywhere near – bars and Hooters are always a safe bet. Obviously avoid the halal markets and the falafel joints.

Let’s say you get through the day without anyone knowing you’ve been eating or drinking. Now the ultimate challenge: you have to act like you’re just as hungry as your fellow Muslims at sunset. This is where guilt can really set in. You sit down for dinner where everyone has legitimately been starving all day, meanwhile you ate a big bowl of chilli just a couple of hours prior. Sometimes, certain people can tell just by looking at you that you haven’t been fasting; it’s like a weird sixth sense they have, and you just have to hope they don’t call you out.

This puts myself and others like me in a weird predicament. Either we just come out and admit we don’t fast and face whatever backlash, or we continue to live a lie for one month every year. But until I do end up making a decision, I’m going to enjoy this chicken kebab over rice.

This post originally appeared here.

Abe Love

Abe Love

The author is a contributor for Vice.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saiyed Hassan Abbas Rizvi

    I have to wonder why this newspaper loves to posts such articles ?Recommend

  • only truth is nature

    At least the writer is honest.Recommend

  • Farhan

    You can probably describe me as one of the casual Muslims that you speak off in this article, though I am not sure about the degree to which I could be called a casual Muslim. To remove your guilt, just tell your parents that you are not Fasting and give your reasons for staying away from the fast, avoid making the reasons too philosophical and just give a cliché answer like you find it difficult to keep it because it is too long or you feel thirsty at work etc. No need to give any controversial reason, keep it plain and simple.
    I did this and it has been fine with me though I must admit my family, and not only my parents, are very understanding so if you have family members who think that your act of non-fasting will result in the fire’s of hell destroying them, then I can imagine why you wouldn’t want to discuss this matter with such relatives. I still try and fast during the weekends, and attend the occasional Tarawee prayers, but that is the extent of my fasting during Ramazan. I also keep my act of non-fast as discreet as possible even if I know my family members are aware that I am not fasting, I still don’t mention the hearty breakfast I had at 7 in the morning to them. It is about respecting the fact that they are fasting and I don’t want to come across as bragging in the sense that I have been having double cheeseburgers while the rest of them have been starved of any food since sun rise. There is nothing Liberal in being so ill-mannered so as to not respect someone’s observance of their religion. Good luck to you.
    P.S: Soon you will realize that grand structure is empty and only that which is beneath it is real.Recommend

  • Rizwan Nasar

    The simple fact is that, if you live in the west, no one cares! I have many friends who do not fast. I and most of “Muslims” I know do not have any problems with it. The best part of living in a non-Muslim society is that even practicing Muslims are educated and knowledgeable and refuse to judge others who do not follow all the tenants of the religion. So my suggestion to the scribe is to stop being a hypocrite and live normally. I guarantee you that no one will care and ‘judge you” fore not fasting. Remember there is no compulsion in religion.Recommend

  • Nayab Khawar

    I’m sure you’re above and over the phase where you would still allow discussions on your beliefs and would consider to listen to people as they try to show you the real Islam, with little hope that at least one person will make sense. It’s not your fault mate but you were dealt the wrong cards, anyway, if you can allow it, please look for “Ghamidi” and just search one question you might have on Islam. You’ll see that you are not wrong to be an atheist as this whole world is confusing Islam. And you’ll find that this scholar is actually on to a point and the truth.Recommend

  • G. Din

    Big deal! I know many who do that.
    Muslims always try to outdo each other in hypocrisy.Recommend

  • Concerned Person

    Thanks for being honest enough to write it. Fasting should be voluntary. There are no heavenly rewards for fasting but rewards only for good actions.Recommend

  • aquarius ten

    I am reading it while eating chicken burger which I have bought on my way to home while keeping an eye for other muslims. I am invited for an iftar dinner today and I must admit that I hate to “fake fast”. I am also an atheist but I love my Pakistani communities and friends and I wish they could be tolerant enough like my other non-muslim friends.Recommend

  • haseeb

    Is it safe to assume that it’s a slow day at Tribune?…publishing such an absurd material that made no sense whatsoever other than enlightening us with childish notions to keep your guts full while faking a fast.Recommend

  • Sami Thinker

    Good to hear that you admit that you, yourself is disloyal to some one. Look, if you will follow orders of your creator you will live a well balanced life and will remain happy but if you think that backlash of parents and siblings turmoils your peace then for sure you are going to see after your death that whom you were disloyal to your creator, to your surrounding folks or to YOURSELF.Recommend

  • Taimoor Shafique

    Do whatever you want to do; it’s ur life. But don’t leave studying Quran’s translation, a few pages once in a while.Recommend

  • BayAreaPakhtun

    Religion, especially Islam has always been between the Creator and the person. Of all the pillars of Islam, like you just published, no human being has insight into and neither should they. Whether you say or believe in the Kalma, whether you pray or stand in the mosque and hum your favorite tunes, whether you perform Hajj or go on a trip to Bali is between you and Him. Zakat is the exception that has had a war fought over and is a right/duty of a man over a man. As a practicing muslim(I fast, try my level best to get my prayers in., etc), I believe as our Creator says He can forgive duties to Him, but unable to for those that are to mankind. Religion is a personal matter. No one should care if you fast/pray/perform Haj/Believe or not. You are answerable for your deeds, I am for mine and only mine. As a brother/friend I can advise and wish the best for you, only to that extent. The rest is your choice.Recommend

  • BayAreaPakhtun

    To open the eyes of those who like to live in denial….Recommend

  • Alex Sal

    I use to fake fast. Not any more!Recommend

  • Ajax Smith

    In the UK many non-Muslims fast in Ramadhan to show solidarity with Muslims. Some even fast the whole month. Recommend

  • vinsin

    It has nothing to do with spirituality, it is based on warrior diet and idea. Apostasy is a concept that only exists in Islam as it is a political system. I am not sure whether this should be called as fasting. As fasting in literal sense is a completely different idea compared to Ramazan.Recommend

  • Sharanhari Dukulanthak

    Eat or not to eat is your sovereign choice, do not worry about rest of the ummah! You could always try to make your life here heaven, who knows what happens after you die.Recommend

  • Concerned Person

    Are people fasting jealous of people not fasting ?Recommend

  • Mohammad Haris

    You fake-fast because you respect your family and the people you live around. You should be happy about it rather than frustrated. I mean that only shows that atleast you have good values.
    But don’t quit making dua; it’s as easy as thinking.Recommend

  • Naveed Ahmed

    would you like to give a shot at discussing islam, just one more time in a non judgemental, academic discussion…if so please contact me at [email protected].Recommend

  • Waqas Khan

    Me being someone under the age of 30 cannot understand where we have failed as Muslims, I actually pity these young ones because their parents have failed to show them the actual and true meaning of Islam.Recommend

  • Mehrosh Ansari

    being honest is one of the quality of being Muslim. Atleast he admitted his act and we should know there are many who fast but their actions and doing are none less then they are doing fake fast. It is the intentions which counts !!!
    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    An honest discussion on how many elderly and or sick individuals die from trying to fast all day all month needs to happen!
    An honest discussion on how many workers die of heat stroke due to lack of water during fasting month needs to happen!Recommend

  • Uzi

    Why not stand up for your convictions rather than hiding under the pretext of ‘strict’ Islamic laws constraining you? Have a conversation with your family and trusted friends about your skepticism and its determinants rather than writing an article on ETRecommend

  • Xahid

    it does not make any sense.Recommend

  • middleway1

    A very unfortunate person.Recommend

  • w

    Article name: I am a Muslim, but I fake fasting in Ramazan

    He says ” if you actually believe in the faith and practice it, which I don’t”

    If you dont have faith how can u be a muslim.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Fasting is mandatory not voluntary.Recommend

  • Be Truthful

    What is the need of this article, i haven’t got any interesting thing out of this article, it is just a way to communicate to other non-following Muslims a way to skip fasting. Also it communicates how to be dishonest to themselves and to the people around them.Recommend

  • Feroz

    No point cheating brother, sooner you come out of it the better. Your life is yours to lead the way you want, yearning for acceptance is fine when one is a juvenile but an adult must face it. Many young people from all religions are atheists but they do not need to hide this reality or fell guilty about it. Unless you are coming from a very rich family and looking to protect your inheritance, there is no point in cheating yourself. I could never live with this deception.Recommend

  • Parvez

    From your write up it appears you live in America…..and it appears you are being pulled in two directions and it will be you and only you who will have to decide where you want to be.
    On the lighter side this reminded me of the now much hackneyed ABCD syndrome.Recommend

  • Mental Wolf

    if you fear the family then must fear the ONE who created you and all this universe.Recommend

  • Feroz

    Rubbish.Recommend

  • Feroz

    He is born a Muslim, did not choose to be one.Recommend

  • Feroz

    Fasting and praying does not make anyone a good human, it is good deeds and compassion for all living creatures that matters.Recommend

  • Muhammad Khan

    Mr. Ghamidi is a master of evasion and deception, he never answers tough question in a direct manner. Instead he seems to have evolved a strange anti science, and anti rational way of approaching everything.Recommend

  • Nabeel Khan

    By being honest to oneself can someone learn to accept that certain things are not acceptable in the Not so Islamic Not So Jamhoori Republic of PakistanRecommend

  • vinsin

    Why? Why author cannot do whatever he/she wants?Recommend

  • vinsin

    What about using Internet?Recommend

  • vinsin

    True, they just want to save their lives.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Who created him? Who created universe?Recommend

  • vinsin

    So what is the result? Do Muslims also fast with non-Muslims on their fasting days?Recommend

  • Khurram Khan

    Funny no one noticed the source of this article … we are a people of high emotions and all those loaded phrases were bound to invite some feeling … As for “fake-fasting” for the purpose of term there may be more positive associated with it than projected in this light.Recommend

  • Taimoor Shafique

    I gave him just an advice. He can still do whatever he likes. But mind it, fasting reduces sins. After all we all have to face God on the day of judgment n every one will be needing 51% success that day.Recommend

  • Taimoor Shafique
  • Taimoor Shafique

    I agree, he is not a muslim if he doesn’t have faith in five pillars of Islam.Recommend

  • Taimoor Shafique

    Christianity, Judaism and Islam, all say that God made everything. Who do u follow.Recommend

  • Taimoor Shafique

    Yes it is not mandatory but it has huge rewards.Recommend

  • Patwari

    You can use it. As long as you get the Wi-Fi from
    the Hindu temple.Recommend

  • Mohammad Haris

    Born muslim is not a term in Islam and means nothing.Recommend

  • Mohammad Haris

    It would have happened long time ago; had there been a need or if it was even a thing.Recommend

  • Mohammad Haris

    Why are you asking him result, go find out if you are so curious. The non-muslims who fast already know the result thats why they are fasting.Recommend

  • Feroz

    He is a Muslim if he is born one, unless he gets excommunicated, which is unlikely.Recommend

  • Feroz

    You or anyone cannot decide who is a Muslim when the religion accepts all those born to Muslims as Muslims.Recommend

  • Mohammad Haris

    If tough questions were so easily answered then there was no point in having faith. You want to see the God to believe Him. That’s not gonna happen.Recommend

  • Mohammad Haris

    Why ? You want everyone to quit fasting or what ?Recommend

  • Nayab Khawar

    To call Ghamidi sahab against science is not fair at all. He’s a man of science, and in the most balanced way. Because he understands the limitations of it. But if we can have a decent and calm discussion to explore the truth, I invite you to it Muhammad. I would like to know which specific issue makes Ghamidi sahab the way you suggest.Recommend

  • gp65

    India has only 4 consulates in Afghanistan and only 2 of them are near Pakistan’s border. India has had these consulates since 1949 and not added a single one since then. Incidentally Pakistan too has consulates in those exact 4 cities.
    If you believe there are 26 consulates, please list the cities they are present in.Recommend

  • gp65

    HE was asking about solidarity by non-Muslims with Muslims earns reciprocation from Muslims.Recommend

  • Patwari

    It appears that you are wrong. It appears there is no such thing
    as “fish and chips” in the US of A. It appears there is fish and
    french fries at Mcdonald’s, or Burger King or any decent seafood
    restaurant. Because the author ‘had a huge platter of fish n chips’
    for lunch! The terminology is all wrong. Nope, ain’t from Trumpland.
    It appears they do have Fish and Chips in Punjab #2. Meaning the
    Second Punjab in Manchester, England. Meaning the author, as he
    wrote “is surrounded by Muslims”, and still be in a foreign country
    means,…or equals Manchester.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Did not sound like it. Sounded more like sarcasm.
    Coming from a Shiv Sena/BJP yatri.Recommend

  • Reeba

    Author can start another #MeToo for fake fasting. It will definitely trend.Recommend

  • Rouf

    That compassion also includes compassion towards the creator who has provided us all the good things.Recommend

  • Mir Ahmed Ali

    If he is a believer but not practicing Muslim he is not out of the circle of IslamRecommend

  • Mir Ahmed Ali

    Faith made you Muslim non practcing will bring you to justice but you remain a MuslimRecommend

  • Uruba Nasir

    He also did not choose to be born!!!Recommend

  • Uruba Nasir

    It is a fard means mandatory worship like prayers!Recommend

  • Uruba Nasir

    You really need to learn something to just blurt out with confidence that you are right..you are dead wrong!!! He was talking about the verdict in the Quran i.e. an explicit order in the Quran to fast in ramadan, and you just called it “rubbish”Recommend

  • Uruba Nasir

    Intention + act = worship…whoever is committing wrong during fast is nobody else’s business but the person doing it, the person effected by it and it is between them and Allah..Allah will judge whoever faked the fast but atleast they did fast and you cannot compare them to those who did not even do that.Recommend

  • Uruba Nasir

    Everybody can leave sipping water till iftar except the sick, old and travellers..Who created you, created the rules of fasting knows better than you and so, He commanded such worship because He does not want hardship for us but ease and only ease..Human being is not just about being human!!! You know very well till when you can survive without etting water and one day if you have no water, suffering starvation, what would you do?!Recommend

  • Ajax Smith

    Unlike India a lot of Muslims in the UK are converts to Islam, or the children, grand children or great grand children of converts to Islam. While in India most Muslims are from Families that converted a long time ago. So for a lot of people, it is a case of Muslim no longer fasting on the days of their old religions. When it comes to born Muslims fasting on Lent, a Catholic I worked with just told me, when he was a schoolboy he used to fast on Ramadhan with his Muslim friends and they used to fast on lent with him. So for some, yes, for others no. The thing about religious freedom is, you get to choose what you do. Whether it is part of your religion or someone else’s. That is something that the fascists in the BJP/RSS find very hard to understand. That is why you fascists to people who are not part of your religion to obey the rules of your religion. You do this when you tell Muslims not to eat beef or tell them what they must do on your religious days. Just as you tell Dalits what they can and can’t do. It is best for Dalits to become Muslim, to escape from what you upper castes do to them.Recommend

  • Nayab Khawar

    If you can show me one such video of him acting in the manner you’re describing, I’ll agree to your point. He is in fact, the only academically authentic scholar we have today.Recommend