During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, many American Muslims embrace the cultural and religious traditions passed on to them across the generations.
But as they begin to have kids, parents — both immigrant and American-born, whether they were born into Islam or converted later — are finding ways to integrate their childhood traditions with those of their friends, neighbors and communities to create a wholly American Ramadan for their children — one that reflects the cultures, tastes, sounds and melding of experiences within their own lives.
They’re using social media to share ideas for making Ramadan more memorable — and meaningful — for their kids. And, like their counterparts in other religions and cultures, they’re creating their own family traditions to engage the newest generation in their faith.
The result: A Ramadan still centered on fasting, reflection and charity but that looks, sounds — and tastes! — very different from what they or their parents knew as children.
For Amy Hossain and her family, this Ramadan has become the Ramadan of cream-cheese puri, as she looks for creative suhoor meals to sustain her growing girls through the month’s fasts.
Ahmad Fahmy‘s daughter is 6 months old, so it’s his first Ramadan as a father. As he reflects on what that means, he’s finding even the basic routines of parenthood are tiny acts of worship in this holy month.
For Asma Khan, Ramadan has shifted from the Pakistani holiday of her childhood to the American one she celebrates with her daughters. “I want my children to know it’s not a religion of culture, but a religion of many cultures,” she says.
Kung Pik Liu, along with her husband, Jontie Karden, has integrated her childhood traditions from Hong Kong into Jontie’s Circassian traditions to teach her 4-year-old daughter about the generosity that goes hand-in-hand with the prayerfulness and fasting of Ramadan.
Sharmina Zaidi and her family have blown up 30 balloons (to represent the 30 days of Ramadan), filled them with candy and notes about what they’re thankful for, and pop one each night as they break their fast. They’re counting down the days until it’s time to get dressed up and head to downtown Dallas on what the kids call “The Eid Train,” which will take them to the convention center to mark the end of Ramadan (which happens this week) with Eid prayers.
For each of these parents, most of whom are American-born and some of whom moved here more recently, the Ramadan experience they’re creating for their children is wholly American: A fusion of traditions old and new, borrowed and created, of faith and food and fasting and community.
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