Ramadan 2023: The non-Muslims in the UAE who are fasting during the holy month

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Being a Christian by religion does not prevent Jisha Kurian, 40, a Dubai-based private hospital nurse, from fasting during Ramadan from dawn to dusk in order to join her Muslim colleagues.

A nurse at the outpatient department at Aster Hospital, Qusais, Kurian has been fasting during Ramadan for the past six years.

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Kurian, who moved to Dubai in 2012, first took inspiration from one of her seniors who used to fast during Ramadan despite being a non-Muslim.

“The UAE is a country that treats people equally with respect and dignity,” she said. “So, I thought when I live in this country, I should go by its tradition and culture.”

Kurian said she also fasts out of respect for her colleagues.

“I fast because I want to pay respect to the belief system and the culture of the country I am in. Secondly, many of my colleagues are Muslims and all are fasting.”

“Being a nurse in the outpatient department, we are always on the run attending to patients. As humans, we get tired. It is difficult to work a whole day without food and water. But I do not think it is good to have food and water when many of my colleagues are working while fasting. So, I join them for the fast and only break my fast when it is time for the Iftar meal.”

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk. The Islamic ritual may leave those practicing feeling less energized and weaker during the day.

But, Kurian said that fasting during Ramadan does not only bring her health benefits, but also “helps humans to fight the tendency to indulge into something.”

“It boosts your mental strengths and clears your thoughts. I feel it kind of detoxifies our mind and brings positivity in life,” she said.

Kurian says Ramadan is a blessed occasion where families and friends get together and rejoice in good spirits.

“Many of my Muslim colleagues have invited me to their homes for Iftar and Suhoor gatherings. It is good to be with their families and be a part of these gatherings. It instills a kind of togetherness among us,” she said.

On the first day of Ramadan, Kurian broke her fast in the hospital with her colleagues as she worked the evening shift.

She is not the only non-Muslim to fast during the holy month.

A healthcare operation professional from India, Pranav Prasannakumar, 30, has been fasting for Ramadan for more than five years.

A Hindu in the UAE, Prasannakumar says Ramadan is an occasion that brings people together irrespective of their caste, creed or color. It brings peace and positivity to the lives of people.

“I have been fasting for many years now. I personally feel that fasting during Ramadan makes me calm and composed. Personally, it is also an exercise that helps us to control our mind and fight cravings. It detoxifies our body and mind and transforms us into a new person by the end of Ramadan,” he said.

He drew his inspiration to fast during Ramadan from his Muslim friends.

“When I first started, I did it just to join my Muslim friends. But once I realized the benefits of fasting during Ramadan, nothing could stop me. So, nowadays, I fast from dawn to dusk and break my fast with my friends for Iftar,” added Pranav.

In observance of the holy month, Muslims fast for 29 or 30 days from dawn to sunset.

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Ramadan 2023: How does fasting during the holy month affect your mental health?

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