The previous blog was about attaining and maintaining that spiritual high that is so characteristic of Ramadan. What I failed to mention, because it honestly didn’t cross my mind, is the right we have to go about attaining and maintaining that spiritual high – as Muslims and as Americans. I have to admit that I failed to mention this because I have been taking my rights for granted. I am accustomed to practicing my rights as a Muslim and American without issue.
Of course I grew up with my fair share of bullying and racial ignorance aimed at my family and me. However, even then I knew that regardless of what people said or how they made me feel, I was a Muslim American, and my rights were an extension of my being. For me, and Muslims across the nation, to practice my faith and observe my religious holidays is an inalienable right. Unfortunately this is not the case in every nation. There are governments out there that are trying to impose their agenda on the most personal of matters – the choice to practice one’s religion peacefully.
Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China have been banned from observing the month of Ramadan and all it entails.
I needed to read that twice the first time I read it so I’m going to write it twice: there is an attempt to ‘ban Ramadan’ in China.
There are several issues with this concept so it requires a breakdown.
First, this is the equivalent of the government trying to ban the month of August; it can’t be done. Once the month of July ends, August will begin. Let’s say the month’s name is changed to Cranuary, and the name August is deleted off of calendars across the nation. Well, then the name has changed but the month still exists, thus the ban has failed.
Now let’s say that August is deleted in another attempt and instead of adding a new month or renaming an old one, the yearly calendar is reworked to have 11 months, thus officially banning the month of August. But again this fails because those days still exist. The government, or any other institute from any other nation, does not have the ability to delete the next day. A feat like that would require someone like Doctor Who and he just regenerated which means he has his own slew of problems , so we won’t bother him for now.
The conclusion therefore is that a month cannot really be banned.
Ramadan is a month on the Islamic calendar. Just like any other month it consists of around 30 days, it precedes a month and is followed by another. The Islamic calendar is lunar so the dates move up every year, yet the months still continue to exist.
I reiterate, a month cannot be banned.
But boy is China trying.
According to Ludovica Iaccino of the International Business Times, “Several government agencies and schools posted the ban notices on their websites, saying it was aimed at preventing the institutions from being used to promote religion,” and this is not the first time this has been attempted. However, this year extra provisions are being taken.
According to an Associated Press report, “In the city of Bole, retired teachers from the Wutubulage Middle School were called in to stand guard at mosques and prevent students from entering, according to a statement on the municipal party committee website.”
That sounds like a lot of extra trouble right? If only it ended there.
Again from the AP: “Also in Bole, the Bozhou University of Radio and Television said on its website it held a meeting with working and retired minority teachers on the first day of the Ramadan to remind them of the fasting ban.”
Now even if fasting is banned, the question at hand is how can this be banned? How can a person get forced to not fast – wouldn’t that require someone forcefully feeding every Muslim in the region?
Now that is just ridiculous, right?
Well again, boy are they trying. From the AP: “On Tuesday, authorities in some communities in Xinjiang held celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party and served food to test whether Muslim guests were fasting.”
When I read this I felt like I was reading a conspiracy theory plot twist out of a Nancy Drew adventure where she was trying to ‘trap’ the ‘culprits’ by catching them in the act.
I have come to appreciate more the rights I have as a Muslim American. No one can take away my rights to practice my religion, especially at such a personal level as fasting, but I am thankful that I do not have to struggle to prove this here.
My heart goes out to the Uighur Muslims of the Xinjiang region, for their struggle is a truly unique one and one that tests faith in an underhanded manner.
Ramadan is a month of peace, self-discipline, and spiritual beauty, but let us not forget our brothers and sisters across the world who are unable to observe this month as it deserves. The struggle of Muslims is a continuing one, even during this blessed holy month, so let’s remember to keep them in our duas.
The 30 Days of Ramadan series is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-TX Communications Intern. Enjoy more of her writing on her personal blog, Religion in the Melting Pot.