#Haramadan Begins Tonight

I’ve not been as active as I had in a while, so to get myself back on track, I’m going to start the Haramadan Chronicles in this Year of Migration 1436*. I’m going to be reflecting and writing, facetiously and seriously, here and on other outlets, on my history with the Islamic month of fasting and its accompanying traditions, rituals, and routines. Dedicated self-reflection and ritual are the only aspects of Ramadan I have truly missed; now that I’m fairly comfortable with my apostasy, there is no reason for me not to give that part of it a whirl again.

Making this especially fun is the fact that my Hijri birthday is the 5th of Ramadan, my partner Danny‘s is the first of Shawwal (aka the day of Eid ul-Fitr), and he is going to be experiencing Ramadan and Eid firsthand for the first time this year.

Some reading to get you started:

* That is the year right now according to the Hijra calendar, which is a lunar calendar based on the year Muhammad reportedly migrated from Makkah to Madinah.

#Haramadan Begins Tonight

Why That Lenten Hijab Stinks to High Heaven

As per the latest buzz, Hijab for Lent joins fat suits for models, Ramadan for never-Muslims, fake female dating profiles for men, homo hand-holding for heteros, and food budgets for the rich as ways by which the privileged center their voices and experiences instead of believing marginalized people’s accounts of their own lives.

Frankly, I’m not only unimpressed by and sick of these tourists, I’m absolutely done with giving them any credit whatsoever. Continue reading “Why That Lenten Hijab Stinks to High Heaven”

Why That Lenten Hijab Stinks to High Heaven

Did Luis Suarez’s Biting Break His Fast?: A World Cup / Ramadan Update

It’s a World Cup Ramadan, the first one since the 1980s. It’s like a White Christmas? Kind of? Except Ramadan is more like Lent than Christmas.

Never mind.

Today marks the third day of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. This weekend, concerns over the Muslim World Cup players made their way across the internets. I happened across posts of the Vox and Mashable links and observed much speculation and questioning regarding the rules of fasting during Ramadan, as well as talk of exemptions to fasting.

Continue reading “Did Luis Suarez’s Biting Break His Fast?: A World Cup / Ramadan Update”

Did Luis Suarez’s Biting Break His Fast?: A World Cup / Ramadan Update

When the “Experiment” Never Ends

Tonight (or last night, depending on whom you ask, as the whole Hijri calendar thing is very complicated) marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Too many people think that Ramadan is Muslim Christmas. It isn’t: Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, is. Ramadan is more like Lent or Yom Kippur, except longer and involving less in the way of the permission to drink water during the day.


There are those who misconstrue Ramadan, and then there are those who see only part of it and decide that it would be fun to try it out. Similarly, there are non-Muslim women who try out their own versions of Islamic “modesty” for set time periods (it’s a little played at this point). Lacking a Muslim background means that such people get to waltz into and then out of their own personalized versions of Islamic practices. Invariably, they are praised for their open-mindedness by fellow non-Muslims and by Muslims alike . They adopt the most showy (read: Other) aspects of Islam, like “modesty” or fasting, abandon them, and then write about it to the applause of the audience.

How brave. How novel.

Except that there’s nothing novel about it. Plenty of people engage in Islamic practices that they later stop doing, and then start again, and then stop again. They’re called “Muslims” and they’re far from an insignificant portion of the world population. As for the alleged bravery, some people leave Islamic practices behind not to the praise of all, but to severe consequences. My personal “modesty experiment” lasted for about a decade and a half. It was my life. I couldn’t walk blithely away from it when I was done, Salon feature in hand. Due to filial pressure and its accompanying personal guilt, I wore a headscarf and dressed according to Islamic law for quite a while after becoming an atheist.

The difference between the experimenters and me is that I actually belong to the community from which such practices originate. When I was a Muslim, taking up a religious habit and then abandoning it meant experiencing a great deal of shaming and even threatening behavior from the community. As an apostate of Islam, while I do not personally subject myself to Islamic rules, I still have to adhere to them to some extent in order to interact with the Muslims in my family and my community. When I don’t, it’s painfully obvious that I am a pariah.

No time is this more true than during Ramadan. I can’t say that I miss the fasting, but I do miss the sense of solidarity, of collective ritual. I could pretend to fast but that might give the Muslims who love me some unfair and totally unrealistic hopes regarding my converting back to my former faith.

My “experiment” with Islam wasn’t chosen by me, lacked in cherry-picking, lasted for 18 years, and hasn’t ended even though, more than seven years ago, I publicly declared myself to be an atheist.

There isn’t necessarily something inherently unethical with trying out different things, even if those things are originally sourced from another culture and/or religion. Visiting another place doesn’t instantly make you a bad person. That said, there is a reason tourists haven’t exactly the best of reputations among natives — and that they are especially maligned for cluelessness.

When the “Experiment” Never Ends