See you in September, social life
During Ramadan, even good Muslim girls get the blues
In most of the Arab world, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on Wednesday, with the global remainder following suit on Thursday. The 1,400-year-old tradition is touted as an exercise in self-restraint, increasing spirituality and appreciation of God's blessings.
Falling in the middle of well-lit August this year, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar is expected to be a particularly grueling period for fasting. Longer daylight hours equal extra-hollow tummies, deprived of nourishment from sunrise until sunset.
Ramadan is also the time of year when most modern, piecemeal Muslims redeem themselves. The hijab-optional, my-parents-are-Muslims crowd. As a proud, (formerly) practicing piecemealer for about five years, I know the schtick well.
Because let's be honest. Just like you, Muslims aren't all the same. We're sick of you asking us whether we pray five times daily (Answer: Right in between client meetings!), we're not going to hide our Shiners behind our backs when you peer at us quizzically and ask, "Aren't you Muslim?" and yes, we still have sex.
With Jews and Catholics. To whom we're not married. Oh, the horror!
So, the situationally pious of the faith take the month to diligently refrain from smoking, drinking, and licking lipstick from our lips. Ramadan gives the absentmindedly devout the rare opportunity to make good on the promises we haven't kept to Allah throughout the year.
The observation of Ramadan is a beautiful and noble endeavor, by objective standards. We fair-weather Muslims do all the self-restraint and selflessness stuff, and we do it pretty well. But only when summoned by the faith to which we loosely subscribe.
While all the newfound gung-ho is generally admirable (and better than not at all), for most non-Muslim Americans, Ramadan merely means losing their Muslim friends for 30 whole days.
To say Ramadan isn't difficult on the rallying Muslim is a bold-faced lie. It almost makes being a Catholic look easy (almost). I mean, they give up piddly vices like chocolate and fast food for Lent, yet we can't even be bulimic during Ramadan. Seriously, what gives?
So accompanying you to an all-you-can-drink happy hour at our favorite dive bar, a private screening of the next blockbuster hosted by Gael Garcia Bernal himself, or the oh-so-popular girls' pap smear outing is unmistakably haraamuntil mid-September. Imagine how our hearts break.
Not that we mind, really. Anything we can do in the name of Allah to make it right is worth it. Really.
But we'll miss you, non-Muslim friends (of which we, the rarely religious, have many). August will be indubitably lonely without you. And tequila shots. And scandal mongering.
So please, we implore you, don't forget about your furiously fasting friends. Call us when you get too drunk, because we'll live vicariously through you as your loving designated driver (but as soon as Ramadan's over, we're so dropping that duty). And if you happen to crave a gorgefest at 9 p.m., the Muslimahs are your girls.
But, for the love of Allah, don't ask a Muslim at 3 p.m. if she is hungry. She may decide human flesh is worth breaking her fast as the order of the day.
Lest you think I'm vapid, I get the point of Ramadan, I do. But as the Islamic brothers and sisters watch their friends zip off to New Braunfels for the annual float trip, the faithful female can only pray for Aunt Flo to hurry up so she can skip town.
Ramadan Mubarak, loyalists. You are far better believers than I.