Every year, with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, some questions come from non-Muslim expats about two things – the working hours during Ramadan and the law against eating publicly during the daytime period. The working hours are usually determined by each business institution, whether government or private, but there are many questions about eating in Ramadan.
During daytime, most restaurants are closed except supermarkets and grocery stores. I know some people complain about the closure of coffee shops, especially those who depend on their morning coffee to start their day, but the law of not eating in public was set in order to respect the atmosphere of the state and Muslims fasting. The closure during daylight hours will not kill anyone, especially since all markets and grocery stores are open and available to all. Any person can buy whatever they want from food and drink, but cannot consume it publicly in front of people. They should take into account that they are in a Muslim country that has its laws on fasting.
I do not see a lot of extremism in Kuwait towards the subject of forcing everyone to fast, and in some institutions, there are special rooms for employees who are not fasting to eat, provided it is not done publicly in front of visitors. It is important for non-fasting people to know that there is a law about eating or drinking in public during the daytime in Ramadan. The law stipulates a punishment of up to KD 100 and/or jail for up to one month. The law also punishes anyone who assists anyone to eat/drink in daytime during Ramadan too.
So, if you want to avoid this headache, I think eating in private or at your workplace would be safer, and again let’s recall that this is only during the daytime and not the whole day, because at night everything will go back to its normal routine.
Now, working under the sun in this heat is very tough, especially for fasting workers like street cleaners. I really hope that we will not see any workers on the streets during daytime. I can’t understand the necessity of forcing street cleaners to be out during daytime in Ramadan, as they might be fasting too and being exposed to the sun is difficult. I see no harm in reducing their working hours and to start working only after iftar. I think this should also be implemented when there is a dust or sand storm too.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, in which a Muslim refrains from eating and drinking and all sins from dawn to sunset. The fasting Muslim should also abstain from lying and obscenity, but this does not mean that everyone acts upon this code of ethic. There are some who do not do their work properly with the excuse of fasting, or delay people’s businesses because they are not in a good mood as smokers and cannot work well during the day. There are others who commit immoral and inhuman acts, and those who grumble about the length of the daylight hours.
No one can deny that the weather is hot and fasting is tiring, but it is a spiritual worship practiced by Muslims and will not stop because there are those who do not like it. They should learn to take it easy and deal with it as a physical exercise to stop eating and drinking during specific hours and try to enjoy the evenings and go out to restaurants and cafes that remain open until dawn.