My story with religion is simple. My father was born and raised in Guinea and my mother was born in the Comoros Islands and grew up in France. They are both Muslim and therefore I and my brothers were born Muslim.
Religion is something that was impressed upon us at a very early age. As soon as we were old enough, my mom taught us how to pray and read the Quran and made sure that we went to Quranic school at the mosque.
I was 11 years old when I started fasting seriously for the first time, and my brothers were even younger. Before that, I would fast here and there but not all the way through. Admittedly, it was difficult but after that year, I became used to it.
I’ve always been close with my family, but what I appreciate the most during Ramadan is the immediate moment in which we break fast and we are all sitting together and digesting our food. It is as if we have this shared bond over having fasted the whole day — an experience that we all went through together.
When I take that first bite of food to break my fast, it is at that precise moment when I realize what a luxury it is to be able to eat. I know that I, and probably many others, am very big on having my meals throughout the day.
But during Ramadan, that routine changes. All of a sudden, I realize that while I am fortunate enough to be able to eat when I want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, many people in this world are not so fortunate. Ramadan teaches you to be grateful for the luxury and the ability to be able to eat when you want to eat.
And it does not stop at food. Ramadan reminds me to be grateful that I have a family that loves and supports me, that I have an education, that I have a job, that I have somewhere to sleep, clothes to wear and that I can choose to do things to please myself, like traveling and going to see movies and eating dinner. All of those things are luxuries, too. Ramadan teaches you not to take what you have for granted and to be mindful of other people’s life experiences.
But the truth is that when Ramadan is over, we go back to our day-to-day lives. This is not to say that I do not remain grateful and appreciative of what I have during the months in which I am not fasting, but I feel like Ramadan really forces you to confront the privileges that you have in life.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour