Ramadan in America.


As our President shares an Iftar meal with Muslim colleagues I thought I would take this post to look how Muslims in America celebrate Ramazan.This month is a very special one in the Muslim calendar; it is the scared ninth month. This is the month of Ramadan, when Muslims are expected to fast during the hours of daylight, avoiding food, drink and smoking. It is an intensely spiritual time for all Muslims even if they are not fasting. The bonds of family and community are strengthened at this time through mutual understanding and experience. The sharing of Iftar (the meal to break the fast) is very special to this, alongside Sahour the meal eaten before sunrise and the Fijr, first call to prayer.  Fasting is deeply personal spiritual experience, as one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith it is very important occasion. Fasting is not easy and more so in American than in the Middle East. In America the support system, the Muslim community can be widespread. American culture does not take into account that a person is fasting or needs to break his fast at a certain time. Expectations are that you continue as normal. To fast from sunrise to sunset takes strength and courage and support from others that are fasting, to know one is in a community is something that is not always available to our American Muslims, having your colleagues oblivious to what you are experiencing makes it twice as difficult. These two poems can give an insight into the difficulties faced by American Muslims, especially by the children. To give you some idea of the length of the day that the faithful have to fast, look here.

We asked our Muslim colleagues how we could show our respect for his fasting, his first reply was ‘you just have’. In an effort to be supportive we ensured that our drinks trolley and water fountain where removed from our meeting room, our colleagues said it was not necessary but we felt we wanted to offer a small sense of understanding. How can we function as the group we are if we do not recognize these important events and how they affect our colleagues? Tonight my wife is making an iftar meal for our colleagues, she has driven me mad! Lovely that she wanted to do it and the fact that my colleague’s family have gone round to help with the preparations is fantastic. I am looking forward to the meal and the one next week where we go to their home to share Iftar.

One thing certainly on our agenda is before next year’s Ramdan we will be looking at how the schools accommodate or don’t the teenagers who are fasting. If you read the poems I mention above, you will understand why this will be on the agenda. Also our colleagues found this article on driving while fasting very informative.

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