During the holy month of Ramadan, our Muslim friends take the time to self-reflect, repent and purify their souls.
All well and able-bodied Muslims will be required to fast during this period, which takes place from March 23 to April 21 this year for those in Malaysia and Singapore.
And despite it being illegal in Malaysia to sell food to non-fasting Muslims during this period, one woman in her 40s was caught doing so, reported Malaysian news site New Straits Times on Monday (March 27).
She was nabbed by the Bachok Islamic Religious Office and Bachok District Council personnel, who are in charge of keeping a lookout for Muslims who are not fasting.
Bachok Islamic Religious Office officer Suratemi Mat Yusof said the raid, which happened between 10am and 12pm on March 26, was conducted after they received a tip-off from the public.
“When we questioned the house owner, she admitted to selling the food and drinks. She would pack the food and drinks and her ‘customers’ would contact her when they wanted to buy them,” Suratemi was quoted by NST as saying.
“We did not detain anyone as her ‘customers’ all ran off when they realised we were about to conduct our operation,” he added.
According to Berita Harian, the woman hid over 20 packs of rice and chicken in the washing machine of her home. She had even marinated chicken in her toilet.
Apart from that, iced tea was found stashed away in her bedroom.
The woman was let off after a warning and will be sent for counselling, reported NST.
Under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997, Muslims who don’t fast as well as those who sell food and drinks to fasting Muslims may be punished with up to six months’ jail, a fine of up to RM1,000 (S$302), or both, on their first offence.
These offences come under the general name of “disrespect for Ramadan” in most of the state laws in Malaysia,” reported Malay Mail last May.
Going undercover to catch non-fasting Muslims
Keeping a lookout for non-fasting Muslims during Ramadan isn’t that uncommon in Malaysia.
According to an AFP report in May 2019, a team of 32 Malaysian officials had disguised themselves as cooks and waiters at food outlets to catch Muslims who did not fast during this period.
A group which promoted the rights of Muslim women in Malaysia had blasted the scheme as a “disgraceful act of spying”, stating that it was “shameful and gives the wrong impression of Islam in the eyes of fellow Muslims and people from other faiths”.