Bismillah. We begin everything with the name of Allah. We say Bismillah to initiate an act to acknowledge the intention and the ethics we carry with all that follows Bismillah.
What is Ramaḍān?
Before I get into what Ramaḍān is, I want to share how I remember Ramaḍān *in my body* as a child. My dad would travel to our masjid in East Oakland to do a group moon sighting, or we would call for days to listen to the local masjid’s answering machine to see if we should fast tomorrow. My body was always in this anticipatory stance — awaiting the withdrawal of food and liquid; awaiting these special conversations with Allah during early morning prayers; awaiting the long, deliriously ecstatic nights of prayer; awaiting Laylat al-Qadr; awaiting Eid al-Fitr where we could eat giant pieces of bean pie and Brother Rasheed Ali’s cornmeal hard-fried fish.
But, wait, what is Ramaḍān?
Truly, Ramaḍān is a time of reconciliation and guarding your tongue, but I also take heed of this hilarious reminder:
And lest we forget:
Reminders for Muslims and non-Muslims:
Mind ya business! Don’t ask someone if they are fasting. Fasting is a form of worship and we are only accountable to Allah (swt). There are countless reasons why someone is not fasting, from health issues to pregnancy to menstruation. Be mindful that asking someone if they are fasting puts Muslims in an awkward situation to either say that their uterine wall is currently shedding or they have a medical condition. There are also some Muslims who don’t fast because they don’t want to 🤷🏽♀️. Either way, it’s not your business.
With that being said,
This is the first Ramaḍān in 25 or 26 years that I will not be fasting. Honestly, I feel guilty and I feel left out. But, we move. I know the allowances are there as a mercy, but it definitely feels upsetting to watch other folks participate in something my body is currently not up for. There are countless ways to participate in this holy month without fasting, such as donating to others, feeding others, additional prayers, additional dua, and other actions of remembrance of Allah (swt).
Ramaḍān is not a competition. Some of my Muslims treat Ramaḍān like a competitive sport. Whether it is bragging about not needing suhoor or looking down on tired folks, Khalas yall. If you are competing with anyone, compete with the Ramaḍān 2022 version of yourself, not your fellow Muslims. We all out here striving; don’t let the competitiveness of capitalism and individualist approaches corrupt this month. Help your Muslim sibling get up for suhoor. Invite your homie to pray an extra rakat. Encourage your friends to stay for the Taraweeh prayer. Help the aunties make Iftar.
Allah loves moderation. Every Ramaḍān I make a list of the 5011 things I will do, and then I beat myself up when I cannot get them all done. I did it again this year and my body spoke up and said, “sis, nah.” I had to drop out of my midnight lifting class, revise my daily writing goal, and pull back on my promise to go to the city to make Taraweeh prayer every night. The one thing I will stick with is my Qurʾānic reading because it is the only thing I have the physical capacity to commit to. I am interested in the life cycles of holy texts; Ulūm al-Qurʾān (Qurʾānic Studies) — specifically, the history of the Qurʾān’s compilation and standardization. I intend to read the Qurʾān the in the order of revelation. Fun fact, the current order of the Qur'an is not the order in which it was revealed. I want to read more about the Sanaa Manuscript and other early Qurʾānic manuscripts, some of which are palimpsest.
Join us. I attended a Catholic high school and spent most of my adolescence in non-Muslim communities. I speak a little bit about this here. That said, I have had the privilege of witnessing and participating in other faith rituals, and it’s quite illuminating. Maybe pick a day to fast!
Zakat. Give to some Muslim charities! Some of my favorites:
Believers Bail Out: A community-led bail fund freeing Muslims from pre-trial & immigration incarceration
LaunchGood Ramadan Challenge: You can select an automatic amount to be pulled from your account and identify what specific causes you want your money to go to.
The Asiyah Women’s Center: The first women’s emergency center in New York City and in New Jersey to address the gap of appropriate residential services for the Arab, Middle-Eastern, Muslim, South Asian (AMEMSA) and/or the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) population.
Rahama Inc.: A Muslim- and female-led nonprofit organization that specializes in underserved immigrant, refugee, and Muslim women facing domestic violence.
Favorite Ramaḍān Memes!
There is one for every day of this blessed month. You can microdose your funny time!
How to cite this newsletter: Rasheed, K. (Year, Month Day). Newsletter Title. I Will (?) Figure This All Out Later. URL
Thank you for reading,
Thank you sister for this awesomeness. I laugh at the memes! It's hilarious. Your curation skill and writing style are excellent. May Allah bless you and give you all what you want and some more.
I just subscribed. ❤️🌙