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The Irony of Ramadan: Only Abstain from Food

The holy month of Ramadan has finally arrived and Muslims all around the world will be seen busy preparing to fast for an entire month, as per the Islamic tradition. Apart from stuffing oneself at both Sehri and Iftari, a few more traditions will be practiced, especially the façade of humility, patience, and chastity.

The first people in question will, as per usual, be the women. Yes, you got that right. Soon, every single male in our society will make it their personal, holy duty to instruct women on the code of conduct they must adhere to during this month. It doesn’t really matter that these are the same men who enjoy sexually explicit videos featuring the degradation and sexual objectification of women behind the scenes – or screens – whilst simultaneously chanting “Astaghfar,” on their rosaries in front of the public; these are pious men who protect their Emaan with their lives.

On one hand, they will entertain themselves with their bodies and on the other, they will criminalize them and take the higher moral ground.

Which is exactly why all women must enshroud themselves in clothes the size of a tent ensuring that their bodies – and identities – are completely hidden and no part is left out in the open, even if it means crashing into a lamppost because they can’t see that well. We’re cognizant that all it takes for a man to stray from the path of righteousness is a woman who dares to expose herself to society; such is the strength of this Emaan.

Moreover, whilst we teach our young ones that we must learn the hunger of those less fortunate than us, we also tell them to clear out the entire table of food so it doesn’t go to waste. We sit caressing our swollen bellies, complaining about how much we’ve ingested and how it is impossible for us to get up and pray in this pitiful condition.

We run towards the prayer mat, struggle with keeping the food from leaving our throats while in prostration, and hurry through the prayers so we can get back to our glutton. Meanwhile, the poor whose struggle in this capitalist world we romanticize for one month per year still starve and wonder why; even in this blessed month does nobody have food to spare.

Comfortably sat inside an air-conditioned room, it’s hard to believe how hot it is, and we keep feeling thirsty. Never mind the fact that all of these people have been running their mouths for the past three hours. The marriage of somebody’s daughter has been put into trial, and another person’s financial stability is being judged on the basis of Halal and Haram methods of moneymaking.

All is lost when the Eid consumerism is brought out with the aid of a studious comparative analysis; a game of who can afford to splurge the most.

Not obliged to fast because of a different religion, the thirsty man labor worker wonders if it is okay to drink water in public. In the hot, blazing sun, such is his thirst that he makes the mistake of filling up his water bottle. He realizes what a mistake it was the minute the rim touches his lips. People are staring at him, shaking their heads in disgust at this open display of vulgarity and insensitivity. How dare he try to fulfill a basic human necessity? Slurs and abuses are thrown at him, all piety and patience forgotten.

Perhaps, we need to understand that abstaining from food isn’t what we were supposed to learn.

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