Here are some of my Ramadan musings:
- When Deprivation is Part of the Journey
“I became a Muslim two decades ago. Seven years later, I married the man who would become the father of my son; Ibrahim arrived a year later. By that point, a hijab sat on my head and I lived in Central Asia. I returned to the United States before moving to the Middle East, with back-and-forth trips to Pakistan throughout. I experienced Islam and Ramadan in many places around the world.
I rarely experienced Ramadan internally.”
- Twenty Years of Stomach-Shrinking Ramadan
“Your fast only counts if you are Muslim,” a man from Syria once said to me. I was eighteen-years–old, not quite Muslim but on the cusp, when he made this assertion.
“That was a horrible thing to say,” my Lebanese friend rebutted. “Shame on him,” she chastised with a shake of her head while she spooned iftari tabbouli on my plate.
It was too late, however. I had already internalized the message that only one legitimate story existed regarding Ramadan, and shame on you if your fasting experience presented a counter narrative. I was a year out of my bariatric surgery. I should not have tried fasting with such a diminutive stomach, but my heart desired to expand in the direction of Mecca. A year after my first fast, I would be a card carrying Muslim, and no thanks to Mr. Syria.
Some are unyielding when it comes to the Holy month. As one of the main tenants of Islam, it isn’t something to casually dismiss, but for me, Ramadan arrived each year as a personal dilemma. For two decades, I desired to feel the excitement other Muslims claimed to experience, but instead of anticipation, I felt dread at what Ramadan would do to me. I kept this anxiety to myself, having always felt too embarrassed to confide, what I considered my weakness, in anyone. ”
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