Ramadan is over. Muslims can re-join American society in breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as opposed to dinner, late dinner, and really early breakfast.
Anyone who has a Muslim roommate no longer has to worry about the sounds associated with someone making an omelette at 4 a.m. Lunch dates and smoke breaks can return. Cafes across this land can welcome back their Muslim customers stopping in for their morning lattes. And the DJs in the nightclubs can break out the techno music once again.
The Islamic year runs on the lunar calendar. That means that while Muslims have a rough idea of what days their holidays fall on, they never know for sure until it’s right around the corner. As a result, this past week, the following conversation took place in thousands of workplaces across America:
Mustafa: “Hey boss, I’m gonna need a day off work next week.”
Mustafa: “Well, it’s a Muslim holiday.”
Boss: “Sure, what day?”
Mustafa: “Uh, Wednesday, maybe Thursday.”
Boss: “Wait… What?”
Mustafa: “I can let you know Tuesday.”
Mustafa: “Well, we have to wait for a guy in Saudi Arabia to stand on a hill and tell us what the moon looks like… Then he posts it on Facebook.”
Confused non-Muslim supervisors had no choice but to give in. In fact, some bosses gave their employees the whole week off just to be safe.
For the past month, many Americans have been wondering why their Muslim buddies have been optimistic at 9:00 a.m., indifferent at 11 a.m., cranky at 1:00 p.m., lethargic at 3:00 p.m., and outright angry anytime after 5:00 p.m. Muslims go through a whole spectrum of emotions on a daily basis during Ramadan, especially when the sun doesn’t go down until after “The Bachelor.”
That’s why I tell all my Muslim friends not to give any interviews to the news until after they have eaten.
But even though Muslims have been fasting for a month, there has been no shortage of Muslim appearances on the news. Author Reza Aslan had to endure a Fox News interview where he had to defend his writing a book about Jesus. Why? Because, as the interviewer Lauren Green noted, “I want to clarify, you’re a Muslim. So why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” She even accused him later on in the interview of failing to “disclose” that he is a Muslim. Fox News wants all Muslims to come out of the closet, once and for all.
We also had to watch as the New York Times published an op-ed piece by Maureen Dowd where she noted that Huma Abedin, the tragically unlucky wife of Anthony Weiner, was “raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet.” Dowd goes on to say that, in comparison, Weiner “probably seems like a prince.” I don’t think she meant a Saudi prince, by the way. But what she did mean was that since Huma is a Muslim, she is used to men behaving in a disgusting manner. Rush Limbaugh jumped in, telling us, “It’s relevant to point out here by the way, Huma is a Muslim… In that regard, Weiner ought to be able to get away with anything.” Dowd is one of America’s most influential liberals, and Limbaugh is the hero of conservative Americans. They almost never agree on anything, except their Islamophobia.
Of course, this is the world we live in, one where being Muslim is seen as an inherent conflict of interest with being American, where Muslims must disclose that they are Muslim. In this world, every Muslim is illustrative of all the rest, and everything a Muslim does he does because he is a Muslim. Of course, this is only true when he does something bad, controversial, or stupid. It never seems to be true when he finishes first in his class, catches a touchdown, or gets elected President of the United States of America.
So, the end of Ramadan means that we can stop thinking about being hungry, and get back to dealing with the real issues affecting our community. And since the month of fasting is over, the Muslims taking on these issues will no longer be excessively moody. And that is something that all Americans can be grateful for.
* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."