I have a confession to make. I am a Ramadan Muslim.
Ramadan Muslim [ ram-uh-dahn · muhs-lim] noun
1. A Muslim who doesn’t regularly practice their faith, except for when Ramadan arrives.
Yep, I said it! I am indeed one of those notorious believers that my fellow more “pious” Muslims love to criticize and complain about.
Faith never really came easily for me. Or I guess I should say, the rituals and lifestyle that come with being Muslim never came easily for me.
I’ve always had a strong connection and love for the Almighty, but growing up in a household where daily prayers and visits to the mosque were sporadically enforced left me in a conflicted state of mind when it came to my faith.
Although I fully understood the concept of worshipping one God and embraced the stories of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), I couldn’t grasp why it was necessary or important for me to convey my worship through five routine prayers or memorization of the Quran. I made my way through elementary and middle school only practicing my faith regularly during the month of Ramadan, because that’s what I saw from the people around me.
It was in the last semester of my eighth grade year that my relationship with my faith began to change. I went to a national convention for Muslims held by one of the largest Muslim American organizations in the U.S. with my grandmother. It was new territory for me. I attended lectures and discussions exclusively focused towards the youth, and how to be Muslim in America. I’ve never been surrounded by so many people that looked like me and believed like I did, and I never met other youth that were actually practicing Muslims. While my experience didn’t suddenly transform my worship habits, it did begin my ever-evolving journey with Islam.
Four months after that convention, I started wearing hijab. It was a welcome shock for most of my family, none of whom ever expected me to take the leap in my faith since I hadn’t been particularly religious up to that point. The only person in my immediate family that wore one was my grandmother, so while the change was unexpected, my family was proud. There was only one issue: I was still a Ramadan Muslim.
It’s the overwhelming presumption that women that wear the traditional headscarf are steadfast beacons of faith, would never miss a prayer, and have their imaan on point 24/7. I guess that’s what I was hoping I’d become when I decided to wear the hijab, but boy was I mistaken.
The choice had only amplified the ongoing struggle with my faith as I now felt like I was a representative of Islam. Entering high school, I was determined to represent as best as I could, but I was disappointed when I repetitively fell short. I never mastered making my prayers on time, and often didn’t pray at all. It was a rare occurrence for me to pick up the Quran or take the time to talk to Allah (swt). I felt like I was committing spiritual fraud. How could I claim to represent my faith when I didn’t even know what the most basic surahs in the Quran meant? The only times I acknowledged the blessings in my life were when the month of Ramadan came around and fasting forced me into remembrance.
It’s been a long and tumultuous journey to get to where I am now. While I still cannot confidently say that I make every prayer on time or that I know much more Quran than I did when I began this adventure, my relationship with my Creator has exponentially grown stronger and I now turn to Him when I’m facing trouble as well as when I recognize blessings in my life.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the number of times you prostrate and recite specific sayings in a day does not determine your closeness to God or your relationship with your faith. It’s not wrong of you to take advantage of the holy month of Ramadan to try to better yourself, and if that’s a contrast from your usual habits, there’s nothing wrong with that because you’re doing your best to get closer to Allah (swt).
Even if you fall under the label of “Ramadan Muslim” always know that nobody but Allah knows your struggle, so keep doing your best to grow your imaan and don’t pay the naysayers any attention