Friday, June 2, 2017

Ramadan

Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia
If you've been following my blog for any length of time you've probably noticed, by their hijabs, that some of my really good friends here are Muslim. Ramadan started on Saturday, and if you don't know what it is, it is a month of fasting from sunrise to sundown. Here's a good article on non-Muslim etiquette towards Muslims during the month of Ramadan. At night, they join together for the Iftar, the community meal after fasting. My friend invited Elizabeth and I to join them that night for the meal. There was so much food, and I was shocked at how slow my friends were eating. If I had gone all day without food, you best bet I would have smashed on everything. I already did, and I didn't even fast that day. One particular thing I noticed about this meal was that men and women eat separately; we were in the same room, but we ate at different tables. Also, Tansulpan recommended we cover our heads, and I kept worrying about my hair showing.
It's been such an amazing opportunity to have Muslim friends. Tansulpan and I have been friends for a while, but just recently I started asking her and Fadwa more specific questions about their religion. Maybe it's because of all that's happening in the USA, maybe it's because I feel comfortable. Whatever it is I have learned so much. Like, did you know, Muslims also believe Jesus will come back and save them, as well? Also, I think it's important to share that most of my friends chose to wear the hijab. I think many people are under the impression that they are forced to, but Tansulpan told me that it was her choice and her parents were shocked when she chose to do it. Same with my friend, Fadwa. Fadwa is from Tunisia and, according to Tansulpan, the choice to wear a hijab means that you could be denied work. Also, even though we live in a majority Muslim area, they still experience discrimination. Fadwa told me the other day that sometimes at night drunk men will still act aggressively towards her when the see the hijab. This came as a shock to me, partly because this is a Muslim area and partly because I've NEVER had a problem with anyone here, even as a woman walking alone at night. She told me that she understands why people do this. They believe what the media tells them. When she told me this my heart broke because the media should not give anyone the right to act hateful towards another person.
I share these stories because I hope they will open your eyes and bust some of the stereotypes you have. I will leave you with my favorite story. I hope I tell this right, but if not the gist is there. A few weeks ago they told me a story about how they were at Rahat cafe having a good time. If you meet them you will notice right away how much they joke and laugh. Apparently, a Muslim man from another country told them that women should not behave the way they were, meaning they shouldn't be so loud. In turn, they responded by quoting the Quran about how men should not look at women the way he was looking and so on. I wish I had been there to see them do that.
This old woman literally took all the leftovers from dinner and put them in bags to take home with her. It was amazing! Also, don't ask what I'm doing. I don't think I knew I was in the picture.

6 comments

  1. So interesting! I haven't had much experience around Muslim culture (besides the time in a Middle-Eastern grocery store in Berlin where I felt like the only one not covering my hair). Glad to read about your experiences with it... I had no idea that there were many Muslims in Russia, to be honest.

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    1. They are mostly here, in Tatarstan, and around Chechnya, although I did here there are a lot in Moscow. I didn't realize it either until I moved here.

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  2. This post made me tear up. Thanks for sharing those stories!

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    1. I'm glad you got something out of them. It's definitely difficult for me because on one hand I want them to come visit me in the USA, but on the other I know how some Americans view Muslims and it breaks my heart.

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  3. What a great experience! Growing up in Ohio I realized that there wasn't much diversity, but until I moved to NY I didn't realize just how sheltered I had been. I love being surrounded by so many different people and cultures. Also, "I don't think I knew I was in the picture" made me laugh out loud.

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    1. Same! Apparently my hometown on Wikipedia is the whitest city in America with a population of 50,000. But honestly, Russians don't get much exposure either. A lot of my non-Muslim friends have told me they don't know about Muslim culture either.

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