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a picture of the inside of a masjid

Ramadan from the Perspective of a Slightly White-Washed Iranian

Ramadan is something I hold close to my heart. It’s been something I’ve been celebrating my whole life, some sort of constant in this crazy world. However, I only feel trepidation for the conclusion. The idea of not having to go to the Masjid every night or to not fast every day feels strange to me. It has become the new norm in my life. Wake up, go to school, go to the Masjid. There are so many memories that I have been swimming in, ranging from when I was only 5-years-old to now at 17.


The origin of Ramadan is like any other religious holiday. It marks when Allah sent down an Angel to bless Prophet Muhammad with the Quran, the first revelation. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam and lasts a moon cycle, from one crescent moon to the other. It’s a time for reflection, for helping others, to free ourselves from sin. 


It’s crazy to think how long this event has been a part of my life, so much that it has left a lasting impression on my soul.  Being Muslim and Iranian is in my blood. It always has been. 


My parents are immigrants, just like so many others. My father came to America in 1979 and my mother in 1999. They had  my sister and me in 2003 and 2005 and tried to raise us as Iranian as possible, which was hard to do in an extremely suburban town. No offense, Nutley.


I’ve been going to the same Masjid since I was little. My mom would take me there every day they were open, even as a toddler. We would sit in a far off room, listening to prayer behind walls to keep my two-year-old blabbering from bothering others. 


I hated it. I hated going there and listening to prayers that sounded like gibberish, being served food with rose water instead of sugar. I rejected my own culture with no hesitation. 


Looking back, I wish I actually had the courage to sit in the main room, to actually do Namaz and to try and understand why we do it. 


It’s something I’m still paying for today.


Ramadan changed my life this year. I tried my best to be as active in the community as possible, doing everything to try and make up for my previous apathy. Ramadan had become a way for me to connect with my parents, a way to grow closer to my heritage that I had grown so far from. It was a way to prove myself to them that I had not abandoned them fully. 


Seeing people younger than I am, being more in tune with my culture hurts sometimes, it’s discouraging in a way. What’s the point if a 9-year-old knows more about the Quran than you? What’s the point if they can speak Farsi better than you?


It’s an uphill battle, all the complexities and languages flying over my head, just out of reach. It’s trial and error, painful trial and error. I used Ramadan as an excuse to absorb as much as possible before the stream of information slows down to a trickle. 


Ramadan has changed my life. It has changed the way I think and perceive, how I view the world in the least pertinacious way. I just hope it will last until next time. 


Happy Ramadan, my Iranian and honorary Iranian friends.