This is my first Eid alone, and I’m scared

Ramadan is a complex, multi-faceted month

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Dates signify an important aspect of Ramadan.

Caffeine withdrawal, some brain fog, and the feeling of just wanting to take three naps a day. It’s the month of Ramadan, and beyond the discomfort there’s so much beauty. 

A lot of the student culture at Queen’s is the antithesis of the observances of Ramadan. In a place where there’s an undeniable drinking culture and a lack of a large visible Muslim community, it’s a tough month.

Despite the hard attempted rebrand—with the inevitable statement that does nothing and addresses no one—and push for equity work from the University, observing Ramadan alone does make me spiral and question my own religious observance. 

Let’s start with some background. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, in which Muslim people globally fast—no eating or drinking among other things—from sunrise to sunset. 

The month of Ramadan ends with celebrations for Eid al-Fitr, where we feast, relax, and spend time with our families. More importantly, this year, I’ll be celebrating Eid away from my immediate family for the first time, and I’m not ready.

I’m not ready for the invalidating glances I get on campus after having to explain for the tenth time in one day that I can’t drink water for religious reasons. I’m not ready to have to justify not eating for a full day to the self-proclaimed health guru. I’m absolutely not ready for the judgment other Muslim people can sometimes cast on their own community members.

Different groups of people within the Muslim community have their own ways of observing Ramadan. The month is as much cultural as it is religious. 

It starts with something as simple as the pronunciation of the month’s name. My parents are from India; in many languages in North India and Pakistan, the month is pronounced Ramzan. This is an ode to the Persian influences and a testament to the interconnectedness of communities globally. 

Pronunciation aside, different sects—I hate this word—within Islam have their own rich and unique traditions. For example, take the Shia community: people generally break their daily fasts once the sun has fully set and it’s dark outside. Along with this, there are three additional days commemorating martyrdom during the month starting on the 19th of Ramzan.      

As a Sunni Muslim, it’s easy to forget the different experiences within the faith during this month. It’s also easy to forget how members of the community can be persecuted for their differing religious beliefs. 

In some countries, groups of Muslims such as the Ahmadiyya community aren’t allowed to self-identify as Muslim. This creates challenges in following the fundamental pillars of Islam. 

This Ramzan, I’m trying to reclaim the beautiful, complex, and sometimes traumatic parts of Islamic history. I feel guilty for many things—not praying Taraweeh prayers or being on track to finishing the whole Qur’an this month—but for too long I was ashamed of my Muslimness. 

Living in the West is hard and often harsh to Muslim people. To the violently racist person reading this: I know you immediately thought I should go back to where I came from. During Ramzan this year, I’m ready for more of us to take up space in predominantly white institutions.

This month, I’m reminding myself of the resilience of the Muslim community. Specifically, the folks who are living in parts of the world where they’re actively experiencing state-sanctioned and prejudicial oppression.    

Yes, it’s annoying when someone asks if they can eat in front of me. It’s hard for Muslim students on campus given barriers to access Halal food choices, but this month is much more than any inconvenience. Ramzan is about learning and loving one’s culture and coming to terms with navigating a harsh world that’s not always welcoming. 

At least that’s what this month means to me. 


comfort, family, ramadan, religion

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