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Here's What The First Ramadan Of Trump's America Has Been Like

"I still sometimes get distracted during my night prayers by the thought of someone entering my mosque with the intent to harm. I wish this were an irrational fear."

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is known as a time of peace, solidarity, and unity. However, with the rise of hate crimes and violent incidents toward those in the Islamic community, this year has been especially trying for those who practice the faith.

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Over the past month, there have been multiple reports of disturbing and violent acts, including a man who was charged with driving into a crowd of worshippers as they were leaving a mosque in London on June 19.

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And in Fairfax, Virginia, a 17-year-old girl named Nabra was killed as she was walking to her mosque after having pre-sunrise breakfast, also known as Suhoor, with her friends.

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Police are currently investigating the homicide as a "road rage incident."

However, although the holy month this year has been marked with tragedy, it has also been marked with resilience.

Recently we asked Muslims to tell us how they felt practicing Ramadan in the current political climate. This is what they told us:

Aymann Ismail

Courtesy of Aymann Ismail

"This is the most important Ramadan of my life. With a heightened awareness of my outward-facing identity, I am wanting to be as vocal as possible about my fasting with non-Muslims. Every time I get on the subway, I want to shout 'I’m Muslim and I’m fasting!' and run down the train collecting high fives. Given the current ideological climate, I feel as though I have a responsibility as a Muslim in the West to take back our narrative. Screw the Taliban and Daesh. I want to be the proof that they are wrong and will inevitably fail, because a peaceful and blessed Ramadan is worth fighting for. Also the nightly Thanksgiving dinners are pretty sweet too."

Shawket Kofa

"As a Muslim American, I have been celebrating Ramadan as I have in the past. Reading the Quran, fasting and praying. I haven't felt any different to be honest. Of course I am aware of the bigot remarks made by Trump and I know that the misconception of the religion of Islam will take decades, maybe even centuries (if humans are still on this earth) to change. But I try to show people within my community, what Muslims are really like. Everyone knows I'm Muslim, and I don't try to hide it. I show them what the real religion of Islam teaches Muslims. Not the misinterpretation of it, that's been driven by such a small number of Muslims who have unfortunately defaced such a beautiful religion."

Mamoudou N'Diaye

Courtesy of Quincy Ledbetter / Via instagram.com

"On top of not eating and drinking from sunup to sundown, Muslims are encouraged to practice self-control, generosity, and remind ourselves of how fortunate we are to have what we actually have during Ramadan but, this year, I feel as if there are plenty of other things to keep in mind. Since the election of Donald Trump (henceforth referred to as President Twitter Fingers or Twitter Fingers), some of the uglier parts of being an American Muslim have come to light again. Don’t get me wrong, being Muslim is super dope, but with rampant, unfiltered Islamophobia around the United States, it fills my day with fears for my family as well as for my fellow brothers and sisters.

I’m black AND Muslim. I’ve dealt with enough bigots that I think I’m eligible for a Ph.D in Bigot Theory. Whereas being black in America comes with it’s own struggles (see: American history), my Muslim identity feels constantly under attack what with Twitter Fingers’s Travel Ban That’s Not A Muslim Ban But Is A Muslim Ban targeting Middle Eastern/Southeast Asian people. I feel like I have to educate people that not all Muslims are brown and from the Middle East and North Africa. This isn’t just bigots however, this is allies and friends as well. I’ve noticed a lot of my hashtag "allies" know that a Muslim Ban is wrong on principle (see: First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States), but they have know idea what being Muslim entails or what goes down every Ramadan.

Because bigots are normally one track minded, they often hate me for Public Blackness and never take a second to think I could be Muslim as well. I feel as if the people targeted with the stereotype of being Muslim are Middle Easterners and Southeast Asians. Whenever I see my sisters in a hijab in public, I have a bit of fear for them because of the horror stories of these empowered xenophobes attacking them. Wearing a hijab isn’t supposed be an act of protest or a target but it seems like it’s both as of late. While I am not often the victim of this targeting, I still feel protective of my fellow brothers and sisters who deal with this day to day. New York may be much safer than other regions of the country because of its more liberal nature but I worry about Muslims in other parts of the country where more active Islamophobes are spewing hate and drinking the supremacist Kool-Aid."

Anonymous

"This year I feel different. I've lived here all of my life, I was raised here, and I've always practiced Ramadan. But this year with the new administration, I'm really fearful. Before I was open, and I always felt like it was ok to say that I am a Muslim. Now I feel uncomfortable to say it out loud like I used to. I'm more reserved now, because when you tell people 'I'm a Muslim and practice Ramadan,' you don't know exactly how they're going to react. I want people to know that it's a beautiful religion. It's loving, it's about peace, and kindness, and the acceptance of each other. It's not what so many people think it is, and it's a shame. And I think a lot of people just listen to what they hear about the negativity, or look at the extremists who claim the religion. But those people are the furthest thing from what we stand for."

Jina Morsi

Courtesy of Jina Morsi

"Yes, Trump is president. Yes, terrorism is active. Yes, I'm Muslim in America. And yet, my personal experience — outside of the family panicking over the pretty gruesome reality occurring throughout the world — is tranquil. This Ramadan, I walked 6+ hours in 95 degree Philly, chatting with my corporate trainer about how and why I would choose to fast under such circumstances. This Ramadan, I invited my best friend, who identifies as an Atheist, to fast and break fast with my family and I. This Ramadan, I spent an Iftar with my two Philly roommates, talking about the basics "no food or water from sunrise to sunset, yes, no water" and what fasting means to me. Ramadan is a chance, regardless of the political climate, to let our freaky Muslim flags fly, and those flags inevitably attract attention, curiosity, and a chance to connect on deeper human levels.

What's occurring here and overseas is tragic. And yet, what occurs every day from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan, is a chance for all people to experience or understand the essence of any submission to any greater good: peace, mercy, connection, humanity, and a chance to share it all together."

Salman Dar

"I live in D.C. and during the holy month I attending night prayers (taraweeh) at various local mosques. With the recent uptick in hate crimes, I have noticed more security being stationed at mosque entrances during these night prayers. This gives me conflicting feelings - one of fear and disappointment that there is a real chance someone could try to enter a sacred space and harm others including myself, but also a feeling of acceptance and hope as many of the volunteer security I've seen are not typically Muslim. This bizarre and scary time has brought out the good and bad across the spectrum. I'm thankful for the many allies and support my community receives, yet I still sometimes get distracted during my night prayers by the thought of someone entering my mosque with the intent to harm. I wish this were an irrational fear."

Spozmi Nouri

Courtesy of Spozmi Nouri

"This Ramadan, considering everything that's been going on in the world. I think I've been more intentional when I've been praying. Asking for peace, and clarity and unity more than ever. My family is from Afghanistan and there were so many incidents that happened in Afghanistan at the beginning of Ramadan. And it made me beyond upset, and filled with questions around why people do this. It also caused me to truly reflect on what Islam is to me, and who my identity is as a Muslim. It's also made me passionate about telling people what Islam truly is and what Ramadan means.

I'm aware of my Muslim identity now more than ever. And with what's happening, I know that I've sought out support and being in community with other Muslims more than I ever have in my lifetime. I have found so much peace, when I'm around other Muslims. With the current political climate, you just don't know, you really can be attacked at any time. I have a necklace and it says my name in Farsi, and sometimes I wonder if I should take it off because people stare at it. But now I know I refuse to, because I want to embrace who I am."

Anonymous

"Ramadan for me has always been an opportunity for deep, dedicated introspection. This lens is achieved through extreme focus, dedicating time to prayer and community. However, this year there is a palpable difference, the introduction of a president with such overwhelming power and such absolute disdain and ignorance of my faith has forced me to think beyond only my personal growth in Islam.

Gone are the days of just standing in prayer asking for protection from God from all things evil, as they are replaced with specific detailed prayers to protect my immigrant parents adorning the head scarf and long beard, living in the middle of Kentucky. But rather than succumb to fear and lack of hope, my faith is further fortified in this Trump era as I meet remarkably talented and pious people actively fighting for not only Islam in America but for any underserved and marginalized communities. In a sense, the fear and distraught that Trump has initially created only further motivation and has strengthed all my prayers and actions during this holy month of Ramadan."

Suhaila Aziz

Courtesy of Suhaila Aziz

"I stay up with the political climate and what happens with the day to day. But sometimes I have to tune it out. Because every day it seems like there's a new crisis or disheartening story. The primary concern is safety and the ability for people to be physically and emotionally ok. And of course looking out for each other. There's so many, unfortunately, different versions of what people think is Islam. And different versions of what people think it means to be Muslim. To me, it's very simple. It's the ability to love God, and love people. And to believe without our humanity, what is left. So I think for the people I see, and the community I'm in, we're constantly trying to build a space where people feel safe and don't feel judged. Whether they pray five times a day, or they're just learning about the faith. Muslims are just living. Just like everyone else."

Anonymous

"Trump's America frightens me. When I see anyone wearing an America flag on their clothing, I steer clear of them. I sadly now associate it with intolerance and I fear I will be verbally or physically attacked due to the brown color of my skin. I am American and proud of my American identity. Having my own flag now represent such negativity to me is utterly heartbreaking. Trump did that and I can never forgive him for it.

Ramadan has provided me with solace during this chaotic time being Muslim. It is a time of reflection, spiritual renewal, gratefulness for all God has provided us and trust in His plan. It puts everything in perspective and affirms that politics, bigotry and terrorism are all manifestations of human weaknesses, devoid of religious or moral footing. Fasting during the day of allows me to focus on what's really important and weed out the distractions we are constantly being bombarded with in this age of the 24 hour news cycle. I pray that one day we can all see past our differences and realize it's those differences that make our country so great. Ameen."

Mike Swies

Courtesy of Mike Swies

"I'm just tired. My soul is tired. And I've just become desensitized to all of the stuff that's been happening. The murders, the killings, the bombings. When you see these tragedies happen, when a Muslim does it, they are a terrorist. But when a black man is shot, or Muslims are affected, it's not. I became Muslim after 9/11. And I feel like I've just seen this get worse over the years. I'm just unplugging. I'm not surprised when this stuff happens, it just hurts. And it's ridiculous. When you look at our president, and how he became president you just feel hopeless. Ramadan is such a blessing right now, it makes me feel like I can shut the world out and focus on being a better person. A better husband, a better person who practices this faith.

Ramadan has been an oasis. It's been a place for me to rest. I have to stay away from social media, because I don't have time to engage with people who say 'Muslims aren't evil but Islam is.' We are human. The Muslims that I know in my life have been some of the most amazing, inspiring people I have ever met. To see the religion of Islam denigrated by a bunch of backwards idiots is heartbreaking. The extremists are not us."

Khadijah Danielian

Courtesy of Khadijah Danielian

"I've been a Muslim all my life. For the most part I've never really had a fear of openly practicing my faith. This is probably largely because I was blessed enough to have grown up in a very diverse area with people from all walks of life racially, religiously, etc. As I got older however, especially growing up in a post 9/11 world, I realized not everyone is so lucky. In our current political climate practicing Islam, and in particular wearing a hijab, tends to put a target on your back. Throughout history, and especially in dark times, people tend to look for a scapegoat: in this era, it's Muslims like me.

Yet even so, it doesn't make me want to hide or be afraid to openly practice my faith. If anything it makes me want to express it and educate others even more. I think Ramadan is an especially opportune time for this. At work and amongst my friends I can answer people's questions about why I'm not eating lunch or why I'm covering my hair when it's 90 degrees outside. I get to share all the parts of my faith I find beautiful with others and create understanding. That's nothing short of crucial these days, because it's ignorance that feeds the fear and haters and animosity. Wearing a headscarf and celebrating Ramadan openly not only helps me better myself…it also gives me a way of fighting back and not letting the hatred win."

(Submissions have been excerpted and lightly edited for clarity.)

This post is part of a series organized by BuzzFeed podcast See Something Say Something celebrating Ramadan with podcast episodes, posts, videos, and essays.

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