Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which means Muslim children in school and adults at work will be met with curiosity or possibly even scorn over why they aren’t eating or drinking throughout the day.
According to a survey published last year by the Pew Research Center, 80% of American Muslims observe the holy month by fasting. In that 80%, there is little distinction between Muslims who were born overseas or in the United States, black or white, men or women.
Even more surprising is the fact that American Muslims are far less likely to observe another of Islam’s most fundamental pillars, prayer. Only 39% of American-born Muslims, and 44% of foreign-born Muslims, say they pray five times a day.
But Islam is more than an identity. Embedded within Islam are a set of normative practices, and those practices matter. They are what turns a loose, passive identification with Islam into a flourishing faith, with benefits for us all. In the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), fasting, like prayer, is meant to primarily be an act of sincere devotion to the God who lovingly sustains us.
And if you really want to see what an American Ramadan experience looks like, don’t be afraid to visit your local mosque. I promise we won’t hurt you, except with potential heartburn, because when the sun goes down we really feast!
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