Ramadan Mubarak everyone!
This Holy month has rolled around again despite our (perhaps naive) hopes that we wouldn’t have to face another one while the pandemic is still raging. But, let’s think about it this way - It’s round two, we’ve done this before, we know the score, and we know we can do this.
Something I personally appreciate is that this month in some ways makes feelings of discomfort and struggle physical - and gives us a chance to face those feelings down. That hunger which is intended to remind us of our privilege, is also a vehicle to reflect on things we want to change, and take the time to nurture that intent.
So while the month is hard - especially in this pandemic, when community is too far away, we can’t meet for meals either groggily before the sun rises or excitedly as the sun sets, and we feel quite alone, the month can also slow time down a little, and help us take stock.
This is true regardless of whether someone chooses to fast or not. The central tenets that are enshrined in Ramadan are worship and devotion, deep self-reflection, self-improvement, and charity. Whether you are practicing or not, these are things that we can all learn from and share in.
If you haven’t found your community, however distant, to help you through your month and beyond, I’d like to recommend the Inclusive Mosque Initiative: https://inclusivemosque.org/. They are a (currently digital) mosque led by women and non-binary mosques, who have created a brilliant space for worship and community. All Muslims welcome.
What helps me during Ramadan particularly, is to learn more about faith and religion. Recently I read Tawsif Khan’s The Muslim Problem, which addressed a lot of issues and stereotypes that I had felt growing up as a Muslim in the UK, and he also has made a fantastic podcast called Muslim Actually to go alongside it, where he interviews inspiring Muslims who show the gorgeous plurality and varied experiences of being Muslim. So far my favourite is the one with Leyla Jagiella, a Muslim trans woman who discusses gender, sexuality, conversion and sectarianism.
I also read Asma Barlas’ Believing Women in Islam, which is about un-reading patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an - this is part of a welcome and established tradition in which Amina Wadud is also a giant.
Actually Mairi and I spent a couple of hours gleefully running around the shop making a pile of books too big to fit onto one pile, of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and memoir by some of our favourite muslims writers - you can find it HERE.