Every year, the profile of Ramadan observances by muslims in the West is raised higher, and invariably reflects the amazing diversity of the muslim community. As a recent Pew Research Center poll found, the more Americans learn about Islam and form friendships with pordinary muslims, the more tolerant and less suspicious and fearful they are of the faith and fellow citizens. In essence, familiarity breeds respect, not contempt.
This is why it’s important for muslims to participate in the sort of anthropological media coverage that invariably proliferates around Ramadan time. There’s a great example of this from American Public Media (syndicated on NPR) called “Revealing Ramadan” where ordinary muslims speak about their own experiences in Ramadan observances. From the program’s website,
Muslims, in their own words, speak about the delights and gravity of Islam’s holiest month. Through vivid memories and light-hearted musings, they reveal the richness of Ramadan – as a period of intimacy, and of parties; of getting up when the world is quiet for breakfast and prayers with one’s family; of breaking the fast every day after nightfall in celebration and prayers with friends and strangers.
Any muslim can submit a story of their own, and they are all collected online for anyone to listen to. I am pleased to note that two of my friends and colleagues, Wajahat Ali (whose play The Domestic Crusaders is now playing on Broadway) and Hussein Rashid (blogger and faculty member at Hofstra University) are participants; I regret not taking the time to do so myself this year.
Related: PDF of the Pew Research Center report.