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Ramadan Mubarak, readers!
We’re about to see the Muslim holy month celebrated everywhere. But because the U.S. is pretty terrible about fostering any religious understanding (apart from fighting diligently in the War on Christmas every year), Ramadan will probably be overlooked by a huge swath of this country.
And that’s just sad! Because there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, and about 3.45 million in the U.S., and Ramadan is a truly special time for family and charity and prayer. And food!
This year, Ramadan runs from May 15 through June 14, and if you’re not Muslim, don’t glaze over when you see the word. Pay attention, ask questions, and (respectfully) get into the spirit yourself. It’s up to all of us to participate in actively welcoming and protecting Muslims in our communities. That means hearing them, knowing them, seeing them, and demanding that others around us do the same.
Just listening to Muslim voices is a perfect antidote to the constant stream of xenophobic nonsense that’s coming from inside the White House. And it matters: 307 Muslims were targeted in religious-based crimes last year — up 19 percent since before Trump took office. Muslims Write is an excellent resource where you can hear from Muslims in America about their lives — the religious, the banal, the humorous, the prejudiced, and the humorous in the prejudice. It’s wonderfully educating and wonderfully entertaining.
Charity is also a huge part of the Islamic faith, and a huge part of Ramadan. To get involved, start at The Madinah Food Pantry, an organization that sponsors families during Ramadan, helps Muslims in need, and makes sure that the Ramadan celebration is accessible to the whole community. Or go a step farther and volunteer at your local mosque — every night the Ramadan fast is broken with an iftar dinner, and most mosques will provide this free to those in need. Look up the closest one and call to see if they need an extra hand serving.
Eid-al-Fitr caps it all off. You can help bring this multi-day celebration to families around the world through the Islamic Relief Center by sponsoring a food package for just $40. The center is affiliated with the Red Cross and also directs you to help Muslim orphans, offer relief to refugees, and a number of other truly worthy causes.
I don’t have to tell you the temperature in this country is too high, and that we are far too willing to demonize anything or anyone that doesn’t seem immediately familiar. Today, I’m telling you that you can’t be a bystander to that hate. This Ramadan, do the work to be a part of the solution. It’s a whole month that asks the billion-plus Muslims in the world to reflect on family and charity. For those of us who aren’t Muslim, let’s take some time and join them.
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