On Thursday, SpongeBob SquarePants, one of the most popular children shows of all time, shared a picture depicting the cartoons main characters SpongeBob and his sidekick, Patrick, wishing Muslims a “Ramadan Mubarak”.
The upload erupted a buzz of positive outpouring from online users expressing their joy toward the simple gesture.
“Wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan!” read the post, which was published across the cartoon’s social media platforms with over 54 million followers combined.
Funny yet important
Many joked about the message coming all the way from the Bikini Bottom residents, with one twitter user calling SpongeBob a sheikh, while another declared they no longer need the moon to confirm it’s Ramadan, because SpongeBob did.
Another shared a funny anecdote of how Ramadan would look like there with the beloved starfish Patrick ordering the infamous “Krabby Patty” at three AM, most likely for Suhoor.
Besides the obvious fun, many more welcomed the endeavor the show runners decided to take because of how rare it is to see friendly and optimistic messages towards Muslims.
“It is incredible how far a simple depiction of SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star celebrating Ramadan can go in making Muslim Americans feel seen, heard, included, and embraced in American media,” Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of US Muslim political action committee Emgage, was according to The Arab Daily News.
Not Arabic Attire
However, the sweet picture went through a careful examination by online Muslims, especially regarding SpongeBob and Patrick’s choice of clothing. An old cultural ownership debate between Southeast Asian countries Malaysia and Indonesia began around the characters’ Ramadan outfits.
Though everyone took their side of the argument, many pointed their appreciation of considering Southeast Asian cultural references instead of Arabic. This comes in efforts to broaden the view of Islam in the US and around world, in addition to diminishing the mainstream notion that Islam is an Arab religion.
SpongeBob SquarePants has been on the air for 20 years and is the fifth longest running American animated series. The show has generated more than $13 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.