I don’t have many Muslim students where I teach now, but my first college teaching gig had lots of Indo-Pak international students in the mix. Back then, I would come to class and see my tired, weary students around this time and ask what’s up.
“Ramadan,” would be the reply. Being Catholic, I didn’t exactly know what that meant back then. One student bluntly responded, with a wry grin, “Teacher, it means the month that we starve during the day for God.”
Today’s the first day of Ramadan, and I think of that wry reply. And here’s a blog, from a non-Muslim, American expat living in Kuwait, writing about Ramadan today. I like her observational, non-judgmental tone, her gentle sense of humour, while fully aware of who is she, where she’s currently living.
I was still teaching at my old college when 9/11/2001 happened, and I could feel the absolute fear my Muslim students harbored, as the anger of what happened understandably washed over to them. I am not certain whether some of them were sympathetic to the terrorists who used our commercial planes as bombs, as weapons, but I know that all of them were not. And to feel their shame and guilt, of what others in the name of their religion did on that day, made me more aware of the ideals America was founded upon.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Those terrorists did not believe in this, and so they attacked America and called us “infidels.” My students did believe in this, and so they studied in America and called me “Teacher.”
Both groups called themselves Muslim.
There is a difference. And, in hearing some righteous rhetoric from all sides in regards to the war on terror, we must remember that.