How non-Muslim nurses are fasting in solidarity with their colleagues

Many of them feel this year's holy month is special as it coincides with Lent, a time when several Christians also fast

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Thu 30 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 2:09 PM

Several non-Muslim nurses in the UAE are keeping a fast during the holy month to express solidarity with their colleagues. For some of them, this is the first time they will be observing the fast, while for others it's an annual practice.

Several nursing staff feel this year's fasting is special as Ramadan coincides with Lent, a time when many Christians also observe fasting or give up on indulgences.


The nurses say that fasting during the holy month has become a part of their lives and they've noticed several health benefits.

Shoba Varughese, assistant director of nursing, Medeor Hospital, Dubai, is one of the nurses who is fasting during Ramadan. “More than 20 of our colleagues are fasting during the holy month. Our non-Muslim colleagues are supporting those who are fasting. I try to fast as many days as possible every year,” said Varghese.


“Ending the fast with our colleagues gives us a special feeling. Unity and mutual respect are the values our adopted country promotes, and we are happy to experience that during the holy month,” said added.

Varghese’s colleague, George Bautista, looks forward to the holy month. “I fast during Ramadan to support others around me. I have many Muslim friends. I look forward to iftars and bonding with them,” said Bautista.

Jisha Kurian, a nurse at Aster Hospital, Qusais, has been fasting during Ramadan for the past six years. She was inspired by one of her seniors who used to fast despite being a non-Muslim. “It is tough to work while fasting, but I do not think it is good to consume food or water when so many of my colleagues are working while fasting. So, I also join them and end my fast with them during Iftar,” Kurain said.

“Fasting makes my mind stronger gives me clarity of my thoughts. It detoxifies our minds and brings about positivity,” she added.

For Jaisy Joseph, who works at Medeor Hospital, fasting is not new. Having lived in Saudi Arabia, she started fasting with her Muslim colleagues there. “ I have been observing the holy month with my Muslim colleagues in the past. However, this is my first Ramadan in the UAE. This year, it is more special because Ramadan coincides with Lent, an annual period during which Christians pray and fast in preparation for Easter. Fasting brings us together as a family and deepens our bond,” said Joseph.

Kurian’s colleague Pretty Mathew, from the gynaecology department, has been fasting for three years. “Our department in the hospital is busy throughout the year. Many of my colleagues fast and work. So, three years back, I joined them in fasting during the holy month. I was not sure if I would be able to do it. But it has been an incredible experience for me. I do not find it difficult to work when I am fasting. It feels God gives us strength when we fast,” Mathew explained.

Joseph’s colleague, Nazeera Syed, nursing director at the hospital, says, “I have witnessed sharing of responsibilities in our workplace. Our non-fasting colleagues will come forward to support those observing a fast and take up additional work. Selflessness and sharing are the values we always uphold and celebrate,” said Syed.


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