Two years ago, when Ramadan happened in the midst of lockdown, I remember mentioning to someone this Ramdan was particularly difficult because of covid. They seemed surprised. They asked why it would be difficult. After all, wasn’t Ramdan fasting? Abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset? I could understand why an outsider to the Muslim community may not understand why fasting during lockdown–essentially in isolation–completely changes what the experience of Ramadan feels like. That’s because Ramadan and COMMUNITY go hand-in-hand.
In fact, there is no other time that I’ve really felt this sense of community and togetherness that I do during Ramadan. Perhaps it’s because Ramadan gives us a reason to come together. In the early hours of the morning, my family and I sit down to eat sehri together; barely awake enough to hold a conversation, but somehow sharing in that tiredness too. We count down the minutes to fajr, downing glass after glass of water. Similarly, in the evening, we all sit around the iftar table waiting for Maghrib so we can break our fast together. When there is no pandemic or lockdown, Ramadan means inviting family friends to join us in breaking our fast. And even during the pandemic, Muslims found ways to ensure we kept up our sense of community. My family sent iftar to other families in our area and community. My family from abroad sent money so we could buy ourselves iftar on their behalf. There is even community in the charity that we participate in; whether it is donating food and money to our local mosque, or donating to help families back in our homelands.
But there is a wider community at play too. There is a sense of community in knowing that Muslims all over the world are spending this holy month joined through our spirituality. And that as we fast together, we are also growing together spiritually; even if we may be miles apart.
Adiba Jaigirdar is the critically-acclaimed and bestselling author of The Henna Wars and Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating. A Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher, she has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko. When not writing, she is probably ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, or expanding her overflowing lipstick collection. She can be found at adibajaigirdar.com or @adiba_j on Twitter and @dibs_j on Instagram.