Non-Muslims experience Ramadan in new BBC show


TRADITION: My Mate’s a Muslim features British-Bangladeshi vlogger Rumena Begum
TRADITION: My Mate’s a Muslim features British-Bangladeshi vlogger Rumena Begum

by LAUREN CODLING

TWO non-Muslims experienced Ramadan for a day in new BBC show which depicts the traditions of one of the largest religious festivals in the world.

My Mate’s a Muslim follows vlogger Rumena Begum and rapper Krept as they invite their non-Muslim friends to experience Ramadan for a day.

Followers of Islam mark the month of Ramadan with fasting, prayers and introspection. Eid, which marks the end of the dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, is a community-led celebration with family and friends.

Rumena, from London, got the chance to show her friend Olivia her typical day throughout the holy month.

“I love Ramadan – it is a month when I feel so spiritual and so connected to my God and I wanted to be a part of the show so that people can see what this month is all about,” she told Eastern Eye. “I’m so glad I got involved and got to see what Olivia thought about it.”

Rumena (left) got the chance to show her friend Olivia a typical day within the month of Ramadan

The BBC Three show gave Rumena and Krept the opportunity to dismiss any misconceptions of the holy month. For instance, Olivia asked if wearing make-up was allowed, as she believed applying cosmetics could break the fast.

Rumena explained, “I told her that it didn’t break your fast or anything, as long as you have good intentions and you aren’t doing anything bad.”

There have also been questions on brushing teeth during Ramadan, but Rumena stressed it is acceptable to do so. “As long as you don’t swallow toothpaste, it is permitted,” she said.

Muslims are also unable to drink water during their fast, which was a surprise to both Olivia and Krept’s friend Kritkal. Rumena admitted that restricting herself from drinking water is the most challenging aspect during Ramadan.

“I do crave water the most when I’m fasting,” she revealed. “But that is why we do Ramadan – it is so we can think about the less fortunate during this time.”

Many believe Ramadan is solely about fasting, Rumena said, but it is also about self-reflection and doing good deeds.

Rumena (bottom left) breaks her fast during iftar with the other stars of the show

Due to the current lockdown measures, Rumena is mostly confined to her home and unable to visit a mosque or meet family and friends. Typically, she organises a charity stall with her family to raise money for local causes.

Despite the prevailing circumstances, Rumena admitted she has still enjoyed the month. She has been productive at home, using her time to read, bake and film for her YouTube channel. The British-Bangladeshi has also been working on raising money for a good cause by selling her baked goods online and giving a percentage of the profit to charities.

“I’m glad I’m still able to do some good deeds even though I can’t physically go out and do charity,” she said.

Following the show, Rumena and Olivia have regularly kept in touch. Although Olivia only experienced Ramadan for a day, Rumena believes she “got a lot out of it”.

“(Olivia) said it had humbled her a lot and has made her really grateful for what she has,” Rumena said. “There are people out there who may wish they were in our place, and Ramadan is all about remembering people who don’t have much.”

My Mate’s a Muslim is available on BBC iPlayer now