The ninth month as per the Islamic calendar is here, and Muslims across the world are ready to observe a dawn-till-dusk fasting for next 30 days. The holy month of Ramadan holds a special significance for the followers of Islam, who spend the entire month in efforts to come closer to God.
In a country influenced by multicultural ethos, Ramadan celebrations for American Muslims are different from those observing fast in the Islamic nations. In the United States, Muslims follow their tradition in a community, which gives utmost respect to the practice even if they may not be aware its fundamentals.
According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, about 80 percent of the estimated 3.2 million Muslims in America will fast during Ramadan. The believers in rest of the world suppose that fasting in a multicultural society can be a challenge. However, American Muslims have a contrasting opinion, who consider that the month is more about harmony.
Ramadan, which begins after sighting the crescent moon, is all about faith, forgiveness, family, food and fun. The believers will be seen spending most of their time in doing things that the religion preaches in general. They regularly attend prayer sessions, recite verses from the holy book of Quran, and give charity to help those in need.
Unlike the Islamic nations, the community in US follows the daily routine even during the fast. “Time just slows down when you’re overseas,” said Jana Al-Akhras, an American-born Muslim. “No one really expects you to do much because they’re all feeling the same way you are. That’s not the experience I had in the US, ever.”
In America and all the other Western countries, Muslims navigate their lifestyle around their fast. They will not mind serving food during their fast, while the Islamic countries believe in shutting down the restaurants and restricting those who do not observe Ramadan.
However, the affinity works both ways in America, which is progressing on the ideology of religious freedom. Along with the locals, the government also ensures a safe environment for the Muslim community.
While the hate crimes in the world are rising, especially at the worship places, the US government has been taking initiatives to ensure security of the mosque-goers. A funding program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security has been fortified, to secure the non-profits at high risk of attacks.
President Donald Trump also issued a message greeting the Muslims on the eve of Ramadan. “Throughout this month, we all have an opportunity to reflect on the blessings we have been given and to work toward greater fellowship with one another. Together, in the spirit of Ramadan, we can achieve a more harmonious and respectful society,” he stated.
Moreover, the US has been holding iftar (evening meal to end daily Ramadan fast at sunset) dinner at the White House, for decades. All the prominent members of the Muslim community including politicians, community leaders and students, attend the reception. Presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama have been following the tradition.
Although the practice was broken by Trump in 2017, he held the first iftar dinner of his presidency in 2018. While the holy month of Muslims has just begun, no announcement of hosting this year’s iftar meal has yet been made.
In a world with increasing hate crime, America as a society is walking on the trails of harmony. While both the government and people ensure respecting the traditions of American Muslims, the community also enjoys celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in a religiously diverse society.