In grade four, a new girl in the class was seated next to me by our teacher. We could not have been more different…
She was brown-skinned and the first person I had ever met of the Islamic faith. I was a white girl who got dragged to church every Sunday without comprehension of religion yet.
We became fast friends. I remember how people would look at her with disgust when she turned down birthday cake from that one kid whose mom always goes overboard with classroom parties. I remember how people would eat food in front of her with exaggerated sound effects to try to tempt her to eat.
I remember the cruel, Islamaphobic names they called her just because she was different. Ameera knew the importance and significance of Ramadan, even at such a young age.
I will never forget that little girl who was so strong and true to her faith, that she would not even let rude peers pressure her into breaking her fasting.
A few years ago, when I moved to the United States, I celebrated a birthday in June. I invited my good friend and neighbour, Mohsen, to my party. He politely declined without reason. With my feelings a little hurt, I walked over to his apartment to demand a “real” reason for his absence.
He did not want to join in the festivities, because he knew that I always prepared an exorbitant amount of food for my guests. It finally dawned on me that it was right in the middle of Ramadan and that I was being extremely insensitive.
When I’m in Bahrain and all the shops close during the day and people take things a bit slow, I smile at myself and others for being so ignorant of things that are important to some. I join the party after sundown and enjoy the magical wonders of Ramadan. I will never forget that little girl who was so strong and true to her faith, that she would not even let rude peers pressure her into breaking her fasting.