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RAMADAN MUSINGS: The Struggle to be Us

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Ramadan Musings

Asian Lite marks Holy Month of Ramadan with a special series of Ramadan Musings with Masarat Daud

Muslim children attend a torch march to welcome the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 16, 2015.
Muslim children attend a torch march to welcome the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia

I often return to this lovely Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Balpreet Kaur is a fine example of this. To follow Sikh values of respecting the body and caring and nurturing it in the form that was given to us is an important aspect of worship. Kaur has facial hair and also sports a turban—both of which are highly unusual according to our set standards of feminine beauty. In a letter to Reddit after someone, without her permission, posted her photo and ridiculed her appearance, she said that “her attitude and thoughts are very important” and it makes her focus on her actions and not on society’s idea of beauty.

Most Muslim women who cover will also share the exact sentiment, yet it largely goes unheard or perhaps, intentionally ignored. There is a constant friction. The experience of standing out is never an easy one; it is an act of bravery to stand up for oneself.

The ‘jihad’ to be us. Don’t let my words scare you. This is no masterclass of violence. Jihad is the Arabic word for ‘struggle’. We all struggle, which means that we all partake in Jihad. It is our daily struggle with this contention, which sculpts us. It is a daily struggle, a jihad, to avoid being a hoarder and to trust enough to give.

It is a daily struggle to believe in yourself, that you can really do it and be great at it. It is a daily struggle to take a moment and let go of the negativity that someone just casually dumped on you via a Facebook post, a tweet, an image, a phone call or a message. It is a daily struggle to remember that your self-worth comes from within yourself; it takes us years to realise this.

It is a daily struggle to be a better person everyday; many simply spend the days trying to pull themselves through to another day. It is a daily struggle to resist passing judgments on people’s lives and to not have an opinion on everything.

It is a daily struggle to remember that the best actions are rooted in happiness and not from hatred, anger or jealousy. It is a daily struggle to constantly remind us that kindness to the self is fiercely important. We deserve kindness.

It is a daily struggle to be patient, to know that justice will be done.

It is a daily struggle to be us. Each day, in and out.

(Masarat Daud is many things. A girl’s education campaigner, a TED speaker, a TEDx curator, a recent SOAS MA graduate and a politically-incorrect humourist currently based in London.)

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