How to Include Others During Ramadan (Part 1)
Ramadan is a month that should be celebrated on both an individual and communal level. Here’s how to include others during this Holy Month:
Family and friends:
While leaning into faith, Ramadan is a perfect time to lean on each other. It becomes a spiritual opportunity to strengthen and support partnerships, family relationships, friendships and the community. Let’s be inclusive and supportive of each other this Ramadan.
- Worship in a mosque, and bring a friend! If the masjid isn’t a place you frequent, perhaps take the opportunity to spend more time at a mosque that speaks to you spiritually.
- If you’re isolated from a Muslim community, for example, if you go to college in the middle of nowhere, create an iftar-tree where you and your friends each take responsibility for preparing iftar or delivering a meal to other students. Or offer to carpool a group to the nearest mosque for a few prayers during the month.
- Remember that fasting is a personal experience, as is you everyone’s connection to their Muslim culture and faith. Make room for everyone at the table.
- Pray for one another.
- While energy-depriving, fasting is not an excuse to withdraw from your day to day responsibilities or relationships. Be patient and intentional with the way you conduct yourself, and support others with this as well.
- If you exchange gifts for Eid, consider support local, small, and ethical Muslim-owned businesses.
Remember that fasting is a personal experience, as is you everyone’s connection to their Muslim culture and faith. Make room foreveryone at the table.
Our Muslim communities are fraught with contractions, and often times this is most visible in relationships to minorities within the faith. By questioning an Islam that looks different than our own, we dismantle rich histories and complex identities that comprise our faith and perpetuate the same ignorance, hatred and white-supremacist thinking that characterize the Islamophobia we are confronted with today.
In the United States, nearly a third of Muslims are Black, but Muslim Americans are disproportionately (and menacingly) depicted as Arab or South-Asian. Unfortunately, it is not only the American gaze into our communities that has a race problem, but we perpetuate this with anti-Blackness in our relationships, homes and communities.
Muslims of varying gender identity and/or sexual orientation are often berated or targeted with violence within a hyper-masculine conservative structure of Islam, isolating Muslims from Muslims and perpetuating myths not viable in the Quran or sunnah.
The religiopolitical nuances within the faith, most commonly visible through the differences in historical interpretation between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, is a non-issue for most while remaining a stumbling block for others.
In the United States, nearly a third of Muslims are Black.
By making an extra effort to welcome all Muslims to your Ramadan celebrations, or simply acknowledging others as partners in faith, you are demonstrating the commitment to equality and community promoted by the Prophet (PBUH). Here’s how you can do it:
- Welcome worshippers from diverse backgrounds into your mosques and homes.
- Celebrate multicultural aspects within our faith by cooking Ramadan specialities from cultures other than your own.
- Find an opportunity to critically engage with these inadequacies in our communities by reading scholarship, and/or attending or hosting events that shed light on these topics and what can be done about them. Remember that we live in a society that is structurally violent against minorities, these issues are not inherent to our faith but rather a symptom of the societies that we reside in.
- Contribute zakkat donations to organizations that do impactful work in confronting the institutions and strains of thought that perpetuate oppression.
People of other faiths:
We have entered a time in the United States where intolerance and violence against Muslims and individuals who “look” Muslim are unlike ever before, a resurgence of anti-Semitism is seeing a wave of destruction and threats across Jewish cemeteries, synagogues and schools. At a time where it is an act of bravery to simply exist, extend your table for an interfaith iftar. Celebrations around Ramadan are a perfect primer into Islam for friends or strangers who know very little about Islam or traditions of various cultures.
- Host an interfaith iftar.
- Coordinate a discussion group that explores the significance of fasting across various ways, and reflect on the similarities that come up.
- For parents, take the time to welcome your kid’s friends into your home for Eid celebrations, or speak to your child’s teacher to coordinate an afternoon of Ramadan-related activities like making paper lanterns, reading stories, or playing with henna.
At a time where it is an act of bravery to simply exist, extend your table for an interfaith iftar.
With more and more misperceptions of Islam by folks who may have never met a Muslim, or misrepresentations of Islam by “Muslims,” the importance of being true to yourself in all interactions is important. Keeping this in mind:
- Just. Be. Yourself.
- Do NOT internalize Islamophobia or feel like you need to speak, condemn, or apologize on behalf of Muslims who partake in violence or harm.