The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started two weeks ago. The day fasting month is observed by millions of Muslims around the world without much fuss or tribulation.
Ramadan now comes in the summer season where the number of hours that Muslims must fast varies based on where they live. In America, there are 17 hours to endure and in Minnesota summer temperatures often reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit (about 32 C). I fear there will be some very angry Muslims over here. This may make Donald Trump’s banning of Muslims from coming to Minnesota during the month of Ramadan not such a bad idea.
However, as Muslims try to cope with all this hardship fasting long hours in the burning heat, this is the first Ramadan under President Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric. Last Saturday, the Act for America, the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America, decided to arrange “March Against Sharia” rallies in more than 20 cities across the nation. The group was formed by a Lebanese American Islamophobic woman named Brigitte Tudor, better known as Brigitte Gabriel, with her infamously debunked conspiracy theory; claiming that American Muslims are somehow attempting to shove Sharia law down America’s throat.
I have no idea how you could even entertain this crazy idea, Sharia law is not even imposed in most Muslims countries. And according to the First Amendment, we have a freedom of religion, not from religion. People have the right to practice their religions as long as they don’t violate any laws or the Constitution. Christians go to churches and fast in lint, Jews go to Temples and eat Kosher food, and Atheists go to bars and drink as they wish. We have legalized gay marriage and Marijuana, pornography and prostitutes having been legalized in some states, Sharia law therefore having no chance here.
As if fasting wasn’t hard enough for Muslims, patriotic Americans marched with their misspelled signs, waving their flags, warning the rest of America of Sharia. “Go Back to your Islam,” read one sign, “No Islam, No Shereya” said another. I asked protestor here in Minnesota, why are you here today? He kept saying “we don’t want Shereya here.” (Which sounds like Noodle in Arabic). “Do you like Shereya in America? “ he shouted. I like *Shereya (Noodle) but I’m fasting now. I said as I veered away avoiding his piercing eyes. Looking around you do you see any sign of Sharia, millions of Americans are still going about their business, eating pork, drinking and having fun, no Sharia there.
Some of the people protesting against Muslims didn’t see any problem voting for a guy who bragged about grabbing women’s private parts and himself is under investigation for conspiring with a foreign country. So what Sharia are they talking about, and why did Americans march against Muslims in their holy month; Ramadan, couldn’t you wait a few weeks? Is fasting Ramadan illegal in America, or one way of imposing Sharia on America? Fasting Muslims aren’t trying to impose Sharia on their friends or co-workers. As a matter of fact fasting Ramadan had saved lives in London fire tragedy, where, as The Independent reported; “Muslims awake for Ramadan might have helped save lives after noticing the horrific blaze at Grenfell Tower.
So why are some Americans picking on Muslims in their holy month? The hardest part about fasting in America is not so much the Anti Sharia Marches, it is fasting in a country where eating is becoming a form of entertainment, where meals, coffee breaks and snacks everywhere and eating never seem to cease. Some Middle Eastern restaurants here, Marina Grill and Marhaba will fetch outdoor tents where hungry Muslims and their families come at sunset to break their fast. A massive display of Ramadan dishes are on display; roasted, lamb and chicken, Okra, Musaqaah, and savoring Ramadan sweets, Katife, Baklava, and Um Ali dishes. Families with their children and friends gather under the giant white tent to celebrate the holy month together in a magical communal evening. That is why most Muslims observe fasting even if they aren’t keen on following other pillars of faith.
As a child growing up in Egypt, fasting would give you bragging rights, and other kids would check to make sure that you are earned it and hadn’t eaten or drunk anything. “Open your mouth, show me your tongue,” they would ask you every time they met you in the hallway, and at this juncture, you had no choice but to open your mouth. Nobody will read you your Miranda rights here. Kids actually took this very seriously, and it wasn’t unusual to see a six or seven-year-old standing on the fasting checkpoint, surrounded by the whole class, sticking his tongue out, ready for the fasting checkpoint. The tongue had to have a gray tinge and not be broken from drinking or eating. If the kids suspected a fasting violation, they would bring their noses as close as possible to your face and smell your mouth to make sure that you had the blessing of Ramadan bad breath.
Here in America, I miss the magnificent scene of the sun setting on the horizon, the anticipation of “Azzan”, the call for “Maghrab” (evening prayer) to break your fast, the food preparation, the sizzling smell of your favorite Ramadan dishes, the communal eating at the public Ramadan dinner table set up in streets and squares of the city, the chat, Ramadan TV series that bring families together, the walk in Cairo streets at night, and most of all the “Mosahraati”, a drummer who comes late at night beating his drum declaring time for your last evening meal, calling your own name chanting: “Esha Ya Nayem Wahed El-Dayim. Wake up sleepy-eyed and worship the everlasting. And one more thing, wish your Muslim neighbor a “Blessed Ramadan”, he/she could save your life one day.
Ahmed Tharwat is the Producer and Host of the Arab-American TV showBelAhdan. His articles are published in national and international publications. He blogs at Notes from America, www.ahmediatv.comand his articles appear in national and international publications. Follow him on Twitter@AhmediaTV.