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Consider others before yourself…

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.

 

Picture1Bianca Marais is an international student from South Africa. She is studying journalism and creative writing in the United States of America.

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