Today, Kate and I were out on a mission to find some lanterns to augment our steadily growing Ramadan decoration collection. We stopped at a Joann Fabric store. Shortly after entering the store, we found some beautiful fabric covered in crescents and stars. Of course I had to get it….and all the coordinating fabrics that would accent the project that was forming in my mind.
We made several laps around the store before stopping at the cutting counter. This is the conversation I had with Thom, the cutter. (As I remember it.)
Thom; Hello, what can I do for you?
Me: I’d like a yard of this please.
Thom: What are you making? (I think this is part of the customer relations there because they always ask this while cutting the fabric.)
Me: I’m making Ramadan Decorations.
Thom: What religion is Ramadan Celebrated in?
Me: The Islamic Faith. Ramadan is the month in which Muslims fast for 30 days.
Thom: Does it have something to do with light?
Me: The fasting is from sun up to sun down.
Thom: Even water?
Me: Yes, anything that can be consumed by swallowing.
Thom: Is it kinda like Lent?
Me: Somewhat. You fast as a way of becoming more mindful of your worship.
Thom: So, what are you making?
Me: Its going to be a countdown calendar. The Crescent is a symbol that stands for the beginning of the month and also the end of the month, so it is present in a lot of Islamic Decorations.*** Also, the stars. I’m going to use the stars to signify each day. We will have 30 stars.
Me: Yes. At the end of the 30 days, we have 3 days of holiday.
Thom: Is there anything else I can do for you?
Me: Do you have any lanterns? I came here to see if you had lanterns and I stumbled across this fabric and it spoke to me. So, now I have this project, but I still need lanterns.
Thom: What kind of lanterns?
Me: Moroccan Style. With the colored glass.
Thom: I would try Pier One.
Me: Thank you so much.
Thom: Thank You. Good Luck finding your lanterns.
Such an innocent exchange of words. Pleasantries, small talk. When Thom asked me that wrote question, he never anticipated that I would end up reaching out and teaching him about Islam. I wonder where this small kernel of shared knowledge will go?
***I know I really, really glossed over the importance of Ramadan and I was winging it when it came to explaining the crescent and star and why it was part of the decorations. But I was trying to reach out and meet him where he felt comfortable. Not proselytizing, just making Muslims normalized, not the other and not the evil you see on TV and the Movies.