Ramadan 2013

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If you ask most Muslims what they enjoy most about Ramadan, undoubtedly some will include the sense of community they feel. Their days start off with eating suhoor with family before dawn and their nights pass by with invitation upon invitation from friends to break fast together at sunset. It’s a great experience for most in that regard as we feel closer to those around us simply because we spend that much more time with them.

The convert experience in Islam is one that is tough for many. Muslim communities throughout the world get excited when someone enters into their doors saying they want to accept Islam. There are hugs and laughter and a large uproar – and then everything stops and the convert has to figure out how to move forward on their own. Trying to navigate through the diversity of legal and theological opinion in Islam can be tough enough, but doing so while navigating through the cultural diversity that exists, all the while questioning yourself and wondering what parts of your identity you need to abandon to fit in makes it that much harder. During Ramadan it’s that much harder. Every Muslim’s family is not Muslim. Every Muslim does not have a family to eat suhoor with or have iftar with. How many iftars have you hosted or attended to which a convert was invited?

In regards to the convert experience, make a point to invite and include those who are new Muslims to your gatherings, as well as just people in general. You can start in the next couple of weeks. The day after Ramadan is the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr. When you are celebrating with loved ones and friends, understand that it will mean so much to someone who doesn’t have a family to celebrate with ifyou included them in your gatherings. The number of converts that I’ve spokenwith that say Eid is such a lonely day is unfortunately huge. They end up going to prayers in the morning and then maybe to a diner afterward, and that’s the end of it. Don’t let that be the case this year.