I am a Christian student taking a class entitled Muslim Faith and Feeling to learn more about your life and faith. I am doing a paper on Ramadan. Since I am from the US, my question is:
How is it different celebrating Ramadan in a predominately non-Muslim country, like the USA?
How is it easier in a predominately Muslim country?
What are the unique difficulties celebrating it in the USA?
Whatever insights and understandings you can give me would be extremely helpful and appreciated.
Thank you for this site and for your input!
Observing the obligatory fasts of Ramadhan, in its essence, is not any different whether the individual is residing in a predominantly Muslim or a non-Muslim country. Obviously, certain differences do arise due to the participation/non-participation of the general collectivity in which the individual is residing. However, these differences only make it more or less convenient in fulfilling the obligation.
For instance, while living in a predominantly Muslim country, it is very unlikely that a person be invited at a social gathering in which edibles are to be served, while in a state of fasting. While such inconveniences may have to be encountered while living in a predominantly non-Muslim society. In the same way, the participation of the collectivity in this form of worship may in a number of other ways, support and prompt the individual in fulfilling his obligation. For instance, in most Muslim countries, the beginning and the closing times for fasts are officially announced, there is generally a restriction on eating and drinking in public places during the fasting time etc. All these factors may, in a way, help the individual in fasting. In short, the difference between fasting in a predominantly Muslim and a non-Muslim country may be explained in terms of a social backing of the worship at a macro level.
However, it should be kept in mind that this difference only effects the convenience for the individual in fulfilling his obligation. It does not in any way effect the nature of the obligation itself. That is, all Muslims, irrespective of their place of residence are obliged to fast during the month of Ramadhan.
13th December 1999