It's Apr. 24, 2020, which means fasting month has just begun in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic ravaging human populations across large swathes of the planet.
This just means this year's Ramadan is a little different from usual.
A different Ramadan
Mosques won't be open, physical interactions are basically non-existent, and breaking fast outside of the home is prohibited.
All thanks to the circuit breaker measures.
And if you don't already know, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced the extension of circuit breaker till Jun. 1, 2020.
This means that the whole of Ramadan, plus about a week of Hari Raya, will be celebrated at home.
The Mufti himself acknowledged that this will be a challenging experience for the Singapore Muslim community.
Non-Muslims wanted to lend a helping hand
As a Muslim, I completely agree with the Mufti.
It's an unfortunate situation, but ultimately, we'll just have to deal with it.
Given the circumstances, there's a group of people who have been trying to lend a helping hand though — the non-Muslims.
About a few days before Ramadan started, a public service announcement (PSA) was making its rounds on Instagram and Facebook.
Here's what it looks like:
When I first came across the post, I immediately rolled my eyes.
I mean, I appreciate the thought, but it's slightly patronising — like when someone continuously speaks slowly to an older person who can hear perfectly well.
We, as Muslims, are aware of the struggles and demands of Ramadan, but we can manage.
Let me reiterate: You don't have to be cautious around us.
As I felt my annoyance rapidly building up, I sought comfort from the only person who has the patience to entertain my rants: My mother.
I thought my mum would share the same sentiments, but halfway through my tirade, she gave me the look.
It's the "My daughter is so stupid sometimes" look.
Then she told me this: "It's not about the content. The first person who started this meant well. It's only annoying because so many people are re-posting it. Like when I work from home and see your face everyday. I also get annoyed."
She also reminded me to think and reflect properly before getting all worked up.
Well, she has a point though (she always does because she is always my mother).
The issue started with re-posts, not the original post
The intention behind the social media post is actually quite wholesome.
Even if it's unconsciously patronising, I can't just disregard the fact that others genuinely want to help.
Why was I so affected over something that came from a good place?
The problem didn't stem from the original post.
The issue only started when the same post repeatedly popped up on my Instagram feed, along with some extra captions and input from others.
That eventually diluted the main purpose of the post.
You see, I found some of my Muslim friends re-posting it too, urging others to do the same.
And that was it. That was the last straw for me.
But instead of getting angry again, I decided to reflect on my self-inflicted predicament and turn it into something I can learn from.
What can I say? My mum's starting to rub off on me.
Reflect on what Ramadan actually means
Ramadan is a month for Muslims to train our ability to adapt and endure challenges on our own.
So we shouldn't expect or encourage others to make sacrifices and change their daily routines just for us.
Fasting shouldn't be an opportunity for us to impose on others. That's simply unfair and selfish.
Plus, we were taught to break our fast with dates (the fruit, not a romantic rendezvous) and a glass of water.
Breaking our fast is not complicated at all.
Something as trivial as having top-notch meals on our tables shouldn't even be a necessity.
Ramadan is also about control, spiritual reflection and self-improvement.
That's what I'm trying to achieve too — to do and be better this holy month.
So to the person who originally made the post, I know you meant well.
Thank you for the kind gesture, but you really don't have to.
And to my non-Muslim friends who have re-posted it, I appreciate your kind thoughts, but please don't worry.
This is what Ramadan is about anyway. We have to find our own way.
Top image collage from Flickr & thisisinch/IG.