I didn’t think I’d end up going this long without writing anything here. So where the heck was I?
Well, shortly after I started my new job thinking I’d be able to dedicate more time to blogging and content we decided to sell our house. Nobody prepared me for what would be several days of prepping, staging our home, listing our home, showing our home, holding an open house and then 50+ house viewings and two months later finalizing the sale of our current home that we’d be able to find a home where we can see ourselves for the next several years. Writing that sentence alone gave me anxiety. Covid has made this market crazy and after two offers that were lost to bidding wars, I’m so relieved that it’s all over and that we move in a few weeks.
In the midst of all of the house selling and buying was a whole month of fasting for the holiest Islamic month of Ramadan. It’s funny because the last time I truly fasted the full month and dedicated myself to prayer was well before I had Alyza. I always had something that interrupted my dedication during Ramadan – work, travel, sickness, not waking up for suhoor, etc. Once I got pregnant, it just all went downhill. This year, I knew I had none of those excuses to make and wanted to be more in touch with my spiritual side. I’m thankful that in the final 3 days of Ramadan I feel a sense of achievement and blessed to be able to spend it in a more relaxed environment, in the comfort of my home where I’ve been able to pray on time rather than having to wait until I got back home from the office.
The other thing I started focusing on this month is being less afraid of sharing my observance of Ramadan on social media. What I don’t share with a lot of people is that 9/11 brought a lot of bullying in school because kids who had no idea where any country on the map even was, started to make connections of my background just on the basis of faith. In no way have I ever been ashamed of my religious identity, however years of this sort of trauma from bullying, Islamaphobic encounters, seeing the men in my life got “randomized” extra security checks at the airport (myself being patted down all the way to the inside of my undergarments multiple times), and verbal harassment have silenced me to the point where religion was the last thing I talked about with anyone other than with fellow Muslims. Although my family growing up was far from what I would describe as a conservative Muslim family, my parents never forced religion on us yet ensured they gave us the opportunity to learn as much as possible about our faith. It was tricky because growing up, there weren’t a lot of mosques or Sunday schools close by for us to attend so we relied on neighborhood Muslim moms who would teach us how to pray, read the Quran, provide us with religious lessons, etc. It was always short-lived because often these ladies weren’t formal teachers and would start to inject their own ideology or perspective with facts. My parents being from two different sects of Islam, wanted to make sure we weren’t being given the wrong interpretation of the Quran so often times would just teach us themselves. My Muslim friends and family overseas may see the inconsistent teachings as something that I was “deprived of” or lacked, but I see it as an opportunity. On my own terms, I became inclined to build my connection with God. Nobody forced it on me.
I truly believe religion, spirituality, etc is all up to the individual to decide how to process. Yes, there’s religion that gives you the structure and map but you decide what roads you take for the end destination. I’m sure someone’s said some version of that before, but I just think that’s the best analogy.
So what have I learned in the last month of fasting? I’ve learned that I have zero tolerance for injustice and dishonesty. It’s funny because those two things are also at the root of my faith. Human beings aren’t perfect. Whether you believe in a god or not, we all know we are flawed creatures. However, it is our responsibility to push ourselves to be more honest and just individuals. There has been so much injustice I have been surrounded with in the last few years. Whether heightened atrocities against Blacks in our community, killing and assault of innocent Asians, or the over 70 years of oppression, attacks, and injustice of Palestinians, it has been just getting heavier and heavier to process mentally. We’re extremely fortunate to be living in a country where no one is coming to kick us out of our homes, but if we don’t look or act a certain way then we are under threat in public every single day.
My hope and prayer for my daughter’s generation and the generations to come is that this is not a feeling they have to live with. It has to end.