Dating During Ramadan: How I Fell In Love with My Husband

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For those that are unfamiliar, Ramadan is a religious month of fasting observed by Muslims.  During the month Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset abstaining from food and water.  Additionally, Muslims should practice prayer, positive thought, charity and increased empathy toward the poor.  Purpose of Fasting During Ramadan   Ramadan uses the lunar calendar which is two weeks shorter than the solar calendar.  As a result, the month of Ramadan occurs two weeks earlier each year relative to the business calendar.  For example Ramadan, in 2013, the year I met my husband started July 9th and ended August 8th.  Now four years later Ramadan of 2017 began May 27 and will end  June 25.  It takes 26 years for the month of Ramadan to cycle the solar calendar.  The advantage to this rotation is that Muslims practicing Ramadan all over the world will have an opportunity to experience both long summer fast and short winter fast.  When I was a teenager Ramadan was in December and the days lasted only 11-12 hours.  Now that it is in the summer, the days last 16-17 hours.  So what’s all of this have to do with dating?  10 Things I Want Non-Muslims to Know About Being Muslim

table-covered-glass-cutlery-128875When you are single you meet people however, wherever and whenever you meet them.  Throughout my twenties I would often meet a new person and begin dating them months or weeks before the start of Ramadan.  Then Ramadan would start and suddenly I’d be less available.  I couldn’t accept brunch invitations, early dinner dates, or stay out super late.  I also wanted to avoid hot summer festivals since I couldn’t drink water during the day.  Being so unavailable for an entire month, near the start of a new dating relationship usually caused whatever was starting to end before it even really began.  And with Ramadan falling in the summer months (August – May) for quite a number of my relevant dating age years this really posed as a problem.  

“Why don’t you just not do it?”

“That sounds way too hard.”

“If it’s over at 8:30 why can’t you come to the party, club etc. at 11?”

After fasting for 17 hours with no food or water in the summer months you can imagine one might be exhausted.  Furthermore, in order to begin the fast at 4am, Muslims wake early in the morning to eat, drink and pray.  Last but not least, while I’ve never been the poster Muslim child, even I wouldn’t think it would be appropriate to go clubbing before and after fasting in the middle of a holy month.   But all of this affected me in dating.  And all of this was a glaring indicator that I was clearly dating the wrong people. 3 Godly Reasons You’re Settling in Love

Finally on July 3rd of 2013 I met my now husband, a Somali American Muslim Frat boy who loves Motown and all things Detroit.  How I Met My Husband (and How to Meet any Guy).   We met at a 4th of July party and the next day on July 4th we met up for breakfast.  That weekend we went dancing in the park at Grant park followed by dinner and more dancing at a late night lounge.  It was like dating any other guy, late night summer fun.  But 6 days after we met …Ramadan started.  This time I wasn’t the only one observing the holy month.  How would this be different?  Could it work?

book-1283468_640On the first weekend of the holy month, he invited me to the well air conditioned Field Museum.  We went late in the day staying until almost sundown.  It was on this date that I learned more about his ethnic background, his culture and his travels.  I also learned as I watched him read an old Arabic Quran in one of the displays that he was multilingual.  I’d have never learned this about him at the House Party Festival or at a nightclub.

After the Museum we went to a Thai restaurant for dinner.   We ordered, the waitress poured the water, and we both sat talking water untouched until the clock reached 8:30, sundown.  I was fascinated that I didn’t need to explain why I wasn’t yet drinking my water.  When dinner was over he took me home.  It was barely 10pm, but I was exhausted and so was he.  We both knew we would each be awake in a few hours for Suhoor (breakfast, beginning of the fast) and so we both knew the night was at an end.  He walked me to my door and said goodnight, no good night kiss or even a hug.   Again, neither of us are or were the poster Muslim child, but we knew enough to be respectful during the holy month of Ramadan.

fish-1501360_640By the end of the 30 days, we’d been to museums, the aquarium, bowling, art galleries, late evening festivals and several dinners.  We’d gotten to know each other in the 30 days of Ramadan in much greater depth than I’d gotten to know  previous dates over longer periods of time.  The 30 days of Ramadan that usually felt more like 60 days had flown by, and my feeling of isolation during the month hadn’t been such.  It hadn’t been a month of turning down summer party invites, missing events with friends and evaporating new relationships.  We had fasted together, and through it really gotten to know one another.

14485172_10100113000543217_2313457736503258945_nThat experience changed me.  Never before had I made significant effort to date within my religion.  I always assumed dating within my religion would require me to change too much.  I thought I was too much the “life of the party” to pair with a a good practicing Muslim guy.  But dating how I’d been dating also wasn’t working.  I know this now.  And just as I wasn’t perfect, neither was he.  Together however, we were both better.    If Not Love Then What?: 6 Reasons Why I Married Him Other Than Love

 

To my readers:  Thanks for reading and letting me share our story.  My purpose in sharing is to encourage you to ask yourself the critical questions.  What do you truly need and want in a partnership?  What doubts or fears are you not admitting to yourself that may be serving as barriers to finding the right match?  It took be over a decade of dating to realize I was afraid to date within my religion because I felt like I wasn’t a good enough Muslim.  When I finally let go of that, and realized that no one is perfect, I met my imperfect husband, and together we are both so much better.  What insecurities are holding you back?  What are the critical must-haves you need or want in a partner that you’ve yet to admit to yourself?