Ramadan Lesson #10: Where’s the Unity?

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Eid mubarak to you and your loved ones, everyone! Ramadan came and went once again quicker than I anticipated, which I guess is a blessing considering I definitely felt crankier in the last ten days haha. Like millions of other Muslims around the world I attended Eid prayers, decked out in my blend of American hipster and Desi (South Asian) clothes and hoping for the spiritual cherry to complete my Ramadan. As I sat and listened to the khutbah, or sermon, delivered passionately by a friend to a crowd of mainly young professionals like myself I kept thinking of what did I learn this past month. Yeah, the fasting and its ability to stoke empathy towards those less fortunate was plain to see, but what of the deeper lessons that emerged? Did I just spend a full 30 days…ok, I missed a few because of traveling, not reflecting on other things that may be equally as troubling, but harder to see? The short answer, thankfully, was a resounding “no.”

One of the numerous sentiments that repeatedly crept up during Ramadan was the perceived lack of inter-community understanding, and more importantly, respect for diversity among Muslim spaces. Mashallah for those places and people that openly welcomed the myriad of Muslim experiences that exist, such as Northern Virginia’s Make Space (check them out if you get an opportunity), but even then such entities have their limits, e.g. marginalizing conservative, “Old World” mentalities and voices. By no means am I immune to these thoughts either; I recognize that at different times have/am outspoken against what I believe to be bigoted, ethnocentric, classist, etc. thinking. My point in addressing this observation is well simple: if we marginalize and do not engage one another in dialogue about why we believe the way we do and just lob epithets at each other how can we even begin to refer to an entity like the ummah? For example, I think it is really fucking ballsy of people, particularly my peers and I, to totally sever ties with those that we see as being opposed to our spiritual beliefs – the Prophet and the Companions never did this, unless facing physical violence. I am imagining after that comment you might point to the fact that it is easy for a white, male, straight-identified convert to proclaim that; yes, you are right and there is no denying those privileges do exist. I, however, do believe that our current course of action, namely disengagement and totally distancing ourselves from the “Old World” has not solved anything and a more balanced approach is needed. How do we expect to see change and a more accepting community evolve if we just sever ties and replicate the same elitist, pretentious bullshit hierarchies we claim to hate? And the same views apply to those who adhere to more conservative mindsets – we all have plenty of room for improvement and hopefully Ramadan was the beginning of a new era.

PS – If you are on Instagram, check out the Eid hashtag; it will surely bring a smile to your face.

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