Ramadan followers are harshly discriminated against, and even killed, around the world as they begin the month-long season on June 18. Similar to Lent in the Christian tradition and Yom Kippur in Judaism, Ramadan is a time of reflection and preparation for Muslims.
Muslims fast, with the intention of getting closer to God, and to remember those who have less. Fasting across all faiths is an exercise of temperance; when hunger pains arise, faithful followers are refocused toward prayer. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and are allowed a glass of water. Additionally, Muslims fast not just by abstaining from food but also from evil, including fighting or gossiping.
Muslims take care of their nutrition by eating Suhoor, a pre-dawn meal that will supply nutrients throughout the day. Immediately at the end of the fast, Muslims have a drink of water and dates. This ritual is followed by an evening meal called Iftar, which can be shared by families and friends in mosques and community centers. Fasting is an important part of Ramadan, and of being a faithful follower of the Islamic faith.
The other four components of Ramadan include the Muslim Declaration of Faith, charity, daily prayer and a pilgrimage to Mecca. The culmination of Ramadan includes Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration where children often get cash, clothes or other gifts. The lantern image which adorns this article is like one of many that light the night during Ramadan in observant households.
Last month saw an enormous anti-Muslim protest at a Pheonix mosque, which included 250 armed individuals. In February, there was an arson fire in a Houston mosque. Montana legislators are pushing for Senate Bill 199, “The Primacy of Montana Law” to join several other states seeking to outlaw Sharia Law, in addition to other foreign and religious laws.
To be a Muslim in America today is challenging, because Ramadan followers and non-followers alike are discriminated against almost as much as they were after 9/11. One knows the challenges the Muslim community faces; in fact, 73% percent of Americans believe that Muslims are being discriminated against. One thing that employers can do to prevent negative discrimination is to allow a flexible schedule to Ramadan observers during the month, which could allow a straight eight-hour day and an early release.
In China, Ramadan fasting has been banned since 2014 at schools and government offices, with the goal of protecting the well-being of individuals, and keeping schools and government buildings from becoming grounds for promoting religion. Railway police killed a Uyghur Muslim man in Xi’an just yesterday (June 16) with a single bullet, as they began to crack down on the month-long religious celebration. In China, Ramadan followers are being bluntly discriminated against today, with laws that seek to undermine the Islamic faith and traditions. In America, Muslims are discriminated similarly, yet in a more hurtful manner, in an underhanded way that is traditional of all the oppression that has plagued the country’s history in the past.
Some, although not most, seek to see in Muslims the enemy they want to see. It is up to supportive Americans to actively protect freedom of religion, by becoming both acquainted with and respectful of different cultures, thereby extending tolerance and celebration of diversity. To greet a Ramadan observing Muslims, the most appropriate greeting to use is “Ramadan Mubarak”, which means “blessed”.
By Olivia Uribe-Mutal
Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen
Yahoo – Q&A: What is Ramadan and why do Muslims fast all day?Image Courtesy of Guillaume
KHOU- Islamic Mosque Burned in an Arson Fire Makes Major Motion to Forgive
Western Journalism – This Montana Lawmaker Has Just Taken A Bold Step To Protect American Justice
International Business Times – What employers must do to help their fasting Muslim staff
Radio Free Asia – Chinese Police Shoot Dead a Muslim Uyghur Man
Image Courtesy of Guillaume Paumier’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License