Ramadan 2021

Ramadan in UAE: This non-Muslim couple fast every holy month for 9 years

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 8, 2021
Athira and Rakesh with their daughter. — Supplied photo

The Indian couple started fasting during the holy month nine years ago to express solidarity with the Muslim community.

Abu Dhabi residents Athira and Rakesh Radhakrishnan have always enjoyed fasting every Ramadan for the past nine years.

The Indian couple hail from the southern state of Kerala. After their marriage in 2012, when the couple landed in Abu Dhabi, they were inspired by the environment of devotion, humility and harmony, especially seen during the holy month. They were eager to be part of the month of spiritual rejuvenation and thus took to fasting to express solidarity with the Muslim community.

“I hail from Thrissur and Athira from Thiruvananthapuram. We grew up in communities where we cordially mark all festivals, have friends from different faiths, and cooperate with everyone irrespective of their backgrounds. Since we came here and with so many Muslim colleagues, we wanted to support them. It started when we joined my friend Nizar in fasting and then continued,” said Rakesh, an accountant at a private oil sector firm.

Athira noted that the first Ramadan falling in the sweltering summer of July 2012 was a big test.

“It was difficult. I was unsure if I could manage without even drinking water. However, we both were able to observe fast for the entire month. It made us very confident about our abilities. Now we don’t feel any such problems. We love this ritual,” the homemaker said.

Athira, however, ensures her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter is always well fed. Their Iftar is simple with dates, lemon juice and fruits. A balanced diet for dinner and rice porridge for Suhoor.

“Ramadan has brought a lot of self-control and discipline to our lives. Fasting offers many health benefits.”

Their act of solidarity has even surprised their new neighbours. “We recently moved to a new community. Our neighbours, who are Muslim families, are so happy that we are fasting. They share their iftar snacks,” Athira added.

Now, they are planning a road trip to Dubai to mark Eid with friends, but not before preparing biryani and ‘payasam’ (sweet pudding) Kerala style.



Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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These prayer timings are for Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. For Abu Dhabi, add four minutes. Deduct four minutes for Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, and six minutes for Fujairah.

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