Being an Atheist in a Muslim home during Ramadan
A lighthearted look at being an atheist in a Muslim home, not just during Ramadan. We are really a very mixed lot: I am an atheist (I was baptised an Anglican), my husband and our Nigerian children are Muslims, my Australian daughter (baptised a Maronite) and her husband are Wiccan, our first lawyer was Jewish. It is the way it is in Australia – our small slice of it, anyway!
Ramadan is a very special time in the Islamic calendar, as are Christmas and Easter to Christians.
Ramadan is a special time of year — a time when Muslims around the world take a step back from their daily routines and focus on community, charity, fasting, and prayer. Ibn Abbas described that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most generous of people, and even more so during the month of Ramadan. Here are some ideas of what you can do this month to help those around you. http://islam.about.com/library/products/aabybhelping.htm
I think Christmas and Easter are also supposed to focus on community, charity and prayer, if not fasting. Both Christian celebrations seem to be more commercial than anything else these days!
Like Christmas, Ramadan is a joyous time and after the fasting during the day there is much partying and visiting of family and friends and eating in the evenings. Giving to and caring for those less fortunate is very important.
I am the only one in the house who doesn’t pray several times a day. The girls had commandeered some sarongs of mine as head scarves for prayer time, without realising what they really are. I thought perhaps I should point out to them how sarongs are REALLY worn! “Oh no”, cried Miss O 1, “I could never wear it like that”! Oh yes you will when it gets hot in summer! How hot, she asked? Well, imagine opening the front door and finding it is like breathing air straight from the oven.
This morning Mr O jokingly said to me, as I savoured the aroma of my morning coffee, ”You can’t even fast for one day, can you”? I looked at him askance and raised one eyebrow. “Darling, I respect your right to follow a religion”. I didn’t mention that I had spent quite a lot of time fasting before they arrived, out of financial necessity! I’ve done my time, for this year at least.
Shortly after the family arrived, the boys asked me, “Mum, don’t you go to church”? I wasn’t about to lie, so I told them I do not believe in gods. They were shocked! “But everything comes from God”, they exclaimed, giving me all the reasons they could think of why I must believe in God. I explained gently that is a personal choice to believe. They have accepted that their Mum is a little strange (from their perspective).
There is the ablution ritual before praying. Now, that means five people washing six times a day, not including normal showers. This kinda raises the water bill. Example prayer times are:
That 7pm one always seems to clash with dinner, so we have to schedule carefully.
The one big personal impact on me is………… NO BACON! Like JM Randolph’s #5, I am rather partial to bacon, ham and roast pork. At least – I was. Out of respect for my family’s religion, I only eat these when out now.
I keep forgetting by the time I get up in the morning the fast has started. Fasting also means no kissing and I forget and go to kiss Mr O goodbye as I leave! I think I’ll remember tomorrow!
The other day I was a little grumpy and Mr O asked me what was wrong. It was just one of those times you want “time out” to calm your feelings. I think it might have been the day I had the car accident, I’m not sure now. Mr O said later that praying is a great way to keep calm. I pointed out that my “time out” was effectively the same thing, I just wasn’t praying when I did it. He understood then, whereas I think before we talked about it, he had taken my grumpiness personally. Had I prayed as a “time out”, to him that would not have seemed personal. So we work it out as we go!
Different countries have different predominant religions. Fitting in different religious practices can be interesting. I am sure that in Qatar fasting all day is catered for in ways it is not catered for here. In Qatar, there were prayer rooms in public places, like the shopping centres, but here there are not. Mainstream schools here, depending on the surrounding demographic, do not have prayer rooms: Brunswick High School does, ours does not.
I remember being very worried about Mr O when he was here in 2010, playing soccer for a local team while fasting, in 40+ C heat. To us, to not drink any water during summer when playing sport or working outdoors is very dangerous. He seemed to cope, but it didn’t stop me worrying! I had visions of rushing a dehydrated man to outpatients and bringing him home on a saline drip!
One thing many people do not realise is that Islam, like Christianity and other religions, varies around the world. Not all regions observe in the same way. As I am an atheist, I do not claim to know terribly much about any religion from a technical perspective, so I’m not going into any academic detail: I just know enough to know various regions are different!
We adapt, we talk, we discuss, we compromise. Some time ago LifeWith4Cats commented “You are very brave to marry a Muslim” on We do have some differences. I understood where her feeling came from. No bravery needed, just love for each other.
Christians, Jews, Muslims - Quizzically Musing (which is also me with a different voice)
An Apology for Apologetics - Walking Away
But Surely Atheists Can’t Have Morals - About A Gringa