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September 22, 2009

How the Grinch Stole Ramadan - the Rest of the Story...

By Aishah Schwartz
Sept. 21, 2009

In my days of reflection this Ramadan I experienced and felt many things, one of which, of course, was hunger! While feeling hungry may have caused some to think of, pray for, or extend a random act of charity for the hungry in this world, for me the awareness of hunger brought to mind something completely different altogether. 

I paused to reflect on the countless other people in the world sitting very much alone, like me, taking every suhoor alone and breaking their fast alone…in fact, when I first came to Egypt, I met a woman who had done just that – for TWENTY YEARS after her husband died and her four children had all gone on with their own lives, raising their own families. They visited her, of course, but in those notable hours of Ramadan – she, like me, like so many others – was "home alone".

So, while many remembered the hungry in Ramadan; I remembered the lonely. 

In remembering the lonely, I also paused to reflect on the state of the Muslim Ummah, asking myself again and again – how? Why? Can it truly be that we are so preoccupied with our own lives that we either cannot or refuse to see what is in front of our eyes?

One of the most talked about teachings of Islam is to be a good neighbor; something that, particularly in Ramadan, we should strive all the more to be.

However, as one day moved into the next throughout Ramadan – my neighbors and friends were all so preoccupied with their own lives that nary a one stepped up-to-the plate in inviting me for Iftar or to join them for taraweeh at the mosque. I even asked five different people (via sms) if anyone could let me know what time the Eid prayer would be - and you guessed it; no replies. 

How could that be?!? One might ask.

Indeed, we should ask.

We should ask ourselves – are we truly good neighbors? 

And closer to home – to all who are reading – do you know a new Muslim? 

Many new Muslims come from backgrounds in Christianity, where, like myself, we spent our congregational time in warm, inviting environments, despite that fact that we ultimately felt that somehow there was something missing in our religious experiences; thus we came to Islam.

But after coming to Islam, the "trouble with new Muslims" – as I have so often heard – is that we take things quite literally; like the teaching to be a good neighbor; like the message of charity and of doing good deeds.

Now, I am not going to offer a listing here of those things that I did in Ramadan for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, but I am going to implore each and every one of you, for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala; take off the blinders – and reach out to your neighbor – reach out to a new Muslim; it's never too late – and the reward is oh, so great, insha'Allah. 

How the Grinch Stole Ramadan (the poem)
Do YOU Know a New Muslim?


  1. Sorry to hear about your experience. Many Muslims practice the outward (prayer, fasting, etc) yet they are greatly deficient in the inward. It seems that the people you know probably have a diseased heart or they are too caught up in worldly affairs. This is a major problem for many Muslims. Try to find Muslim with a pure heart who also practice the outward for they will be your best friends. In the end, you will probably only end up with a handful of friends.

  2. Wa'Alaykumsalam Aishah,

    I just found you on Twitter. You are the 1st American Muslimah writer who I discovered after my reversion to Islam. I LOVE your writing. Happy belated Eid.

  3. Assalamu Alaikum habibty! Masha'Allah! You have a very nice blog!

    I just read: SUBHAN'ALLAH!!

    Will have to read more, insha'Allah!

    Love and hugs!


  4. Jazak Allahu khair sister for checking out my blog and reading about my journey. I'm soooo happy and loving your blog and writing as always!

  5. I love your blog! Sam was right. Unfortunately there are many muslims who perform outward Islam. They, however, lack genuine, sincere, neighborly or sisterhood/brotherhood type feelings in their hearts. I am of mixed ethnicity and I know your pain. To make matters worse, my own family (5 siblings and respective spouses, only a couple are married) have commited the same crime too often to count. I can say this, I certainly would have invited you over in a heart beat! I surely would have replied to your text, if only I were so lucky. *sigh*
    I love you for Allah. May you have a very blessed life in the dunya and aakhira. Aaameen.


  6. Asalaamu alaikum

    I am a convert too and I feel your pain. I have one piece of advice and its that you should pray salatul tahujud. Only Allah can change people's hearts. I know that from my own experience. I never thought that after I converted I would be lonely. I thought that muslims would embrace me just as I had embraced Islam. I will pray for you too; May Allah send you righteous muslim sisters to guide you and help you and comfort you and keep you company. Amin.