Though one is free to fast or not – be they Muslims or not, none is entitled to break fasting in public during the holy month of Ramadan, as per the UAE laws and traditions.
Failing to show this slight consideration for fasting Muslims is punishable by law, and shall be penalized with a fine of not more than DH 2,000 or a jail term of maximum one month, according to Article 313 of the UAE Federal Punitive Law.
Prominent Emirati advocate and legal advisor Dr Yousuf Al Sharif told Khaleej Times on Thursday that this specific article of the punitive law is kind of consideration to the feelings of fasting Muslims.
“Muslims are ordered by Almighty Allah to abstain from eating and drinking from Dawn time to sunset on these blessed days which fall in the sweltering summer months,” he said.
Hence, it is not acceptable or respectful from others to offend Muslims by carelessly eating or drinking in front of them, he added. Hence, it is not acceptable or respectful from others to offend Muslims by carelessly eating or drinking in front of them, he added.
Dr Sharif, the former deputy spokesman of the Sharjah Consultative Council, underlined that it is also kind of respect to the holy month of Ramadan which is only a matter of some 29 or 30 days. “Neither Islam nor the UAE law intervenes in the personal life of non-Muslims. Otherwise, it shows full respect to their beliefs, traditions and backgrounds, no matter we agree with them or not.”
Should anyone want to eat or drink, he or she is free to do the same, but in private, without offending others in this holy month, he pointed out. “People should respect each others’ beliefs and traditions.” Major General Ibrahim Ali Al Shehi, Director of the Criminal Investigations Department at the Ajman Police, was also cited as giving the same warning, mainly for long time residents in the country.
“A fine not exceeding Dh2,000 or a jail term of not more than one month shall be slapped against fasting breakers in public during daytime in the holy month of Ramadan, as per article 313 of the federal punitive law.” Maj-Gen Al Shehi said first time visitors or tourists to the country are gently and tolerantly enlightened about the UAE rules and traditions, particularly in the daytime of Ramadan.
“However, the situation is different with long time residents who shall face legal action and penalty,” he said, affirming that very few people have been arrested for such violation as most visitors and tourists are aware of the UAE traditions. Arif Al Wakeel, Egyptian, said he is training his young children to fast in Ramadan. “Whoever breaks his fasting is advised to eat or drink in private so as not to hurt others who are hungry and thirsty.” Wafaa Saqr, Syrian, said it is rare to see anyone breaking his or her fasting in public during Ramadan. “However, the article is good for reckless people who do not respect others.”