Here's What Ramadan Is Really Like

In June, Bustle is partnering with Muslim Girl to highlight the voices of millennial Muslim women as they observe the holy month of Ramadan. Read on as they share stories of how they personally observe this holiday, and why this year's Ramadan is especially significant.

Ramadan is a spiritual and festive time of the year for Muslims around the world. For a month we fast from sunrise to sunset, we pray, we read from the Quran, and we strive to deepen our connection between ourselves and our faith.

Ramadan is also a time to engage with the community, connect with friends, perform good deeds and selfless acts, and remember those around us who need more than they have, while we have more than we need. This month also gives us a chance to create, celebrate, and carry on cultural and religious traditions.

Whether it’s donating food to those in need, making paper lanterns and “Ramadan Mubarak!” signs with children, or getting together with the campus Muslim Student Association for a potluck dinner, Ramadan is a time for gathering together and sharing. In this month, we share wisdom from the Qur’an and our holy texts, but we also share our time, our skills, our sisterhood, and our love of Froyo.

Here are some of the many ways the women of worship and spread love to our communities throughout the month.

Amani Hamed

Ramadan is a time for remembering those around us who are less fortunate. The homeless, the hungry, the persecuted and disenfranchised. This month reminds us as Muslims to step up for our sisters and brothers and do something about injustice. I’ve seen sisters and brothers in Oakland plant urban gardens to fight food deserts. I’ve participated in food drives, lunch-makings, and grocery distributions through several Muslim charities. I love attending fundraiser dinners that benefit refugees and those affected by war, drought, and famine. My favorite form of giving back to the community however is putting my money where my mouth is and showing up to community events like the Unity March I will be attending this Saturday.

The Unity March was created by community members here in the Bay Area in response to rising Islamophobic sentiment and Islamophobic marches taking place nearby. In the age of 45, every good deed, every act of worship is an act of resistance. Muslims and other members of the community, immigrants, LGBTQIA+ folks, supportive allies, and our families and friends will stand shoulder to shoulder, singing messages of love that will drown out the hateful messages being shouted by those protesting our existence and our freedoms.

Amanda Sadler

Ramadan is about selflessness and a connection to God, so I love to spend the month doing just that. Whether I am heading to the local food pantry with donations or cooking for others, I focus less on me and more on others. Even something as simple as babysitting so someone can pray can be rewarding. Read more about my experiences in my personal essay.

Sumaia Masoom

Spending Ramadan away from home the past three years since I came to college has been extremely rough, but I've been incredibly lucky to have still been able to get into the Ramadan spirit by surrounding myself with my friends and making the most of what we've got as college students with - yikes - so many student loans. Whether it's latenight suhoors at IHOP with my Muslim friends here at Northwestern, stringing together frozen vegetables and pasta for our wannabe-gourmet iftars with my fellow Muslim interns last summer in DC, or even just taking walks and killing time with my sympathetic non-Muslim friends in both locations, I feel truly blessed to have found friends and support systems that - regardless of their faith - make Ramadan even away from home a time of community and reflection for me.

Ahlam Abdelkader

I love the spirit of Ramadan! The dates always taste sweeter around those times. My family and I like to try new recipes. My mom always makes samboosa (crispy rolls with beef or lentils inside) around this time and they're so delicious that if anyone would want to give up fried food during Ramadan they wouldn't! My family and I also like to decorate a little and some days we eat picnic style. My favorite thing about Ramadan is connecting with other Muslims who can relate and if my non-Muslim friends are curious I like to educate them on why Ramadan is a special holiday to me.

Ramadan is a sacred month all about deepening our worship, and increasing the amount of good we are putting out into the world. While many forms of worship take place inside the mosque or in ways very specific to Muslim religious rites, practical forms of worship are often the easiest to perform, and the most impactful in our communities.

Coordinating a canned food drive, fundraising for a child’s classroom to receive new books or art supplies, taking food to our elderly neighbors, and volunteering at the women’s health clinic are all ways of increasing our impact. Through practical applications of worship like charity, friendship, and social justice advocacy we can create a ripple effect of good in our communities. — Amani Hamed