Disclaimer: I will be calling out Muslim brown boys and if that makes you uncomfortable you probably SHOULD read this.
Peace and blessings, ramzan kareem, it's that time of year again. I genuinely hope all my Muslim brothers and sisters across the globe find serenity, deep reflections, and comfort during this holy month. Surely we should acknowledge that we are all "Ramadan Muslims," for there shouldn't be a stigma surrounding an increase of good deeds and spirituality. If we aren't using these next 30 days to self reflect, we aren't celebrating properly. Here's a shoutout to the struggling muslims, those who fast with little to nothing to eat, the converts that have to hide their faith or celebrate alone, the queer muslims who find it exceptionally hard to find community, and everyone else whose faith is dismissed. I hear you.
Before I begin my timely rant, I'd like to take a minute to say that Muslims with mental illnesses deserve to be appreciated during Ramadan; nobody understands how difficult the smallest of tasks could be. Between Muslims who have health conditions that prevent them from fasting to Muslims who can't get out of bed to perform obligatory prayers because of depression, let's allow 2018 and every year after to be the year everybody ceases to judge. Thank you.
Now let's break out the bottle of rooafzah and fry Muslim fu*kboys like samosas.
I can thank my mother a million times and sit here and wonder how she has the strength to wake up an hour early to prepare suhoor, make sure everyone has eaten, drank enough water, taken their medicine, and have time to eat herself, but it'll never make up for her patience and care. On another note, it baffles me that for all 20 years of my existence, my dad has not once woken up early to help her prepare. Furthermore, he's made it clear that it's perfectly acceptable for my brother and him to roll out of bed five minutes before fajr to eat while my mom and I get everything ready. This is one of the many types of patriarchy manifest in desi households. Women need as much time for spiritual immersion during this special month as men, not a list of more food preparations and housework. It shouldn't be difficult to split the tasks, take turns, or even help from time to time @ muslim boys in my twitter mentions.
Although (alhumdulillah) this doesn't happen anymore, there was a time in my childhood when my parents instilled the belief that I, the eldest daughter, had an obligation to do basic tasks for the men in my family simply because my biological gender predetermined who serves and who gets served. In all honesty I've been punished or given the silent treatment from my parents for not making my brother a sandwich or forgetting my "duty" of washing dishes with the crude illogical statement: "because you're a girl."
"Hey mom, dad, can I go hang out with my friends?"
"No it's late"
"But Bilal is out with his friends..."
"You're a girl"
Before anyone pushes the "protective parent" agenda, let's decide to teach young boys how to be decent toward women rather than sheltering girls in fear. Of course we're not out here claiming that the world is a safe place for girls to venture freely, but is that going to stop me from living my best life? This is not say that women shouldn't take whatever precautions they feel necessary to be safe, because we should. Don't go out alone, share your location with your friends girl, make smart choices if you're going to be out late with strangers, please! However sheltering your daughters instead of teaching your sons how to be decent humans is not a progressive act.
On to the main course! I've been waiting all year to talk about periods.
All too often muslim girls find themselves sneaking snacks into their bedroom or hiding out in the kitchen when they're on their period; god forbid our dads and brothers make the realization that we're healthy menstruating women. Oh, your mom woke you up to have a pretend sehri meal to avoid suspicion? Been there. To non-muslims and boys who have no idea what i'm talking about, let me educate you. Menstruation is a factor that nullifies a person's fast and automatically "breaks" it, so for 5-7 days of Ramadan, women don't fast. Growing up, we got teased about eating as if someone "caught" us. For years I felt obliged to fabricate a cover up story for why I'm eating instead of admitting that my uterus is bleeding. Cultural norms and patriarchal societies compel women to feel awkward confessing to men about a natural, god given, thing. The taboo and stigma associated with menstruation devalues and censors our bodies. Periods are a defining symbol of womanhood and nobody should feel ashamed or be forced to be secretive about it if they don't want to!
The main reason Muslim boys feel so uncomfortable about it is due to restrictive traditions that regard menstruating women as "unclean." People are intentionally ostracized for something they have no control over. A god given function necessary for procreation is not something you need to hide to keep boys from feeling "uneasy." Centuries of male dominance across the world plays a major part in the expulsion of women, and the fact that this concept is still prevalent is tragic. I've had whole ass grown adult brown men say "ew" or "I don't need to hear this" when I mentioned periods. Let's talk about periods as a normal, miraculous thing, and separate it from the shameful and indecent connotations it's come to bear.
Aside from womens' cycles, a number of things could be preventing people (men and women) from fasting: being sick and needing medication, being mentally unstable, having an eating disorder, being pregnant/nursing, or traveling! So stop asking questions and putting us in the spotlight.
Tell your brown men to stop saying the n word, respect women, and do the cooking for once. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.
a fasting samosa