Ramadan Is Meant to Be Shared
Ramadan Mubarak, Ramadan Kareem, Happy Ramadan everyone!
My Facebook feed is full of Ramadan well wishes from around the country, and my inbox is flooded with Ramadan messages and prayers from friends and family. As one friend so aptly said in her status update, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" This is the month most Muslims look forward to the whole year. It's a time when we come together as one Ummah (community) and strive together in the same physical practice of fasting, even as our inner journeys are unique to our own individual Ramadan goals.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a month when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sun up to sundown and focus on elevating their worship and prayer and spiritual connection to God. (This Ramadan FAQ will help answer all your questions about this holy month.)
As a journalist covering Islam in America for more than a decade, I've been telling the story of Ramadan from all angles. But what I find unique this year is how Muslims in America are grasping onto Ramadan with such pride and love, eager to wear their fasts as a badge of honor, explain what they are doing and why they are doing it to anyone who will listen, and using all platforms to seek that connection of community with each other—whether via social networking or through communal iftaars and evening tarawih prayers. We've always known how special and important Ramadan is, how it is a month for us to become the best we can be, and we want to share this with everyone—especially in light of the difficulties we are facing.
It's been a tumultuous past 10 years for Muslims around the world and Muslims in America. The tragedy of 9/11 created such a line of demarcation in our stories and lives as Muslims. As Wajahat Ali wrote in his article on post-Osama life for Muslim Americans, "There is a permanent fork in the timeline of the Muslim American narrative: Pre-9/11 and Post -9/11."
In 2010 alone, Muslim Americans faced a frenzy of suspicion, mistrust, and hate over situations like Park51 in New York City, or in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Muslim American citizens are battling a community who doesn't want them to construct a mosque, or in Florida, where Pastor Terry Jones engaged in a campaign to burn the Qur'an.
We hoped that something would give in 2011, and indeed the year started off with the death of Osama bin Laden, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the attacks of 9/11. But it seems like no matter how much Muslims try to be a part of the American fabric, no matter how many times we condemn terror attacks or violent thinking of so-called Muslims with the intent to harm humanity, the suspicion, the mistrust, and the hatred is not subsiding. Many states have misguided and unnecessary anti-Sharia laws on the docket. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain deemed the need for a loyalty test for Muslim Americans.
Dilshad D. Ali is managing editor of the Muslim Portal at Patheos. An experienced journalist, she has covered Islam and Muslims in America for more than ten years for a variety of print and online media outlets, including Beliefnet and Illume, Islamica, and Azizah Magazines.