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Ramadan Guilt


(NB of course I wrote this only hours before I found out that *someone* DIDN’T dump his girlfriend/piece/whatever she is for Ramadan. I stand corrected. Staying with the girl is still kinda skeevy during Ramadan. Especially if the girl in question is kinda skeevy to start with.)

Many years ago, when I lived in Zurich, I had a conversation with a girl that went a little like this:

“Wow, you’re Muslim? That is so cool! My boyfriend is soooo cute and he’s Muslim too! We’ve been going out for a while but I am kinda freaking out because he said he won’t call me for a month but not to worry. What are Muslim men like? Do you think he has another girlfriend, or that he just doesn’t know how to dump me?”

“Oh no, honey,” I said, “He’s just got a touch of the Ramadan Guilt.”

This ummah and our collective Ramadan Guilt never cease to amaze me. I don’t know why some our our most laid-back-let’s-take-a-few-liberties-with-the-religion members suddenly turn Taliban because ZOMGS IZ RAMADAN. No more sex. No more booze. No more ham sammiches. Because during Ramadan we gotta have our stuff on LOCK.

Some would argue that it is good that people try to “wise up” during Ramadan and be conscious of what they need to do for their faith. But for me there is a fine line between “trying to do better” and “hypocrisy.” Is dumping your girlfriend for Ramadan to get back right together with her after Eid a real conscious effort to do better? But don’t get me wrong- like our Champagne Brother in my last post, I’m not judging. I’m not gonna front like I have never been down that road. I just don’t understand why something someone is able to justify outside of Ramadan becomes impossible to justify this month. And call me crazy, but from a dawah standpoint, what are these dudes teaching their girlfriends about Islam if he’s all like, “Sorry honey, my religion says I can’t hang out with you for a month, see you in October” ? Because that is what pisses me off the most: OWN YOUR RELIGION PEOPLE. Never forget that for some people we may be one of the few Muslims they get to interact with. Find another reason not to fuck around, I don’t know- “Sorry honey, I gotta do night prayers tonight so I need my ghusl?” I’m tired of the hypocrisy.

But enough about the brothers. I don’t have to hate on boys anymore because Pablito gives me all the love and attention I need. One of my favorite pillars of Ramadan Guilt is the good old “If you don’t pray on time during Ramadan, your fast is invalid.” Um, prayer is a pillar of Islam and fasting is a pillar of Islam. But prayer isn’t a condition of fasting. If you’re not into praying, why are you going to jump right in because you are fasting?
I’ve argued for hours on this (and I almost never argue points of religion) because I found the conclusions so ludicrous, like if you miss fajr you can’t fast, if you don’t have ghusl at fajr you can’t fast… All kinds of reasons which have nothing to do with the fast… STOP THE INSANITY! Why can’t people just use Ramadan to take an honest look at themselves and their faith and their lives rather than going through the motions for 30 days like it means something?

Anyone remember the Chris Rock skit where he was talking to a girl about her man and she was all like “But he ain’t been in jail” and he was all like, “People aren’t supposed to go to jail, you don’t get a cookie for not going to jail” ? I’m not gonna give some dude a cookie because he stopped having sex for Ramadan. No can do.


Author: Nicole Cunningham

American Expat and convert to Islam living and working between Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland.

7 thoughts on “Ramadan Guilt

  1. Assalaamu Alaikum,

    Man. You’ve said a mouthful.

    I think that because I’ve never understood the sawm to be a part of the prayer, the argument that some people have that if you miss a prayer your fast is invalid never held water for me. Then, too, as a convert, knowing the actual rule is ultra-important to me. I was already sick of people telling me “x-action and y-belief means you will go to hell” when I converted.

    As for the question of why people can’t use Ramadhan as a time for self-reflection and self-improvement, they don’t know that that’s what its for. If these are the same people who think the month is about insta-piety, you can’t blame them for their mediocrity. That’s what Ramadhan is all about for them. It’s part of the reason our CHILDREN are a test for us… what we teach them is what they teach not only their children, but everyone around them.

    Alhamdulillah I managed to stay Muslim in spite of the Muslims. Really.

    *sigh* I guess I’m lucky not to know of/be able to pay attention to/ have to think about any sexual shenanigans amongst the young Muslims in my circle. But you know the default thought among a lot of these men isn’t that the girlfriend in question is going to need to know about Islam. Of course, they’re getting their cookies now (thanks for the analogy) so they can grow up and marry a nice “born” Muslim girl who will raise nice Muslim children who can repeat the cycle. /cynicism.

    We gots to do better.

    fi amanillah

  2. Ha!! This is all too familiar. Gather ’round, children:
    Once upon a time, a non-Muslim friend introduced me to a Muslim Boi she had met because she knew I was researching Islam. Muslim Boi was far more interested in getting “cookies” than teaching me Islam, but I persisted with the theological debates and midnight meet ups and Steak and Shake on the other side of town away from any possible meet-up with his mosque pals. Then the day came when I got this phone call: “Hello? umm. hi. This is hard to explain. but. it’s Ramadan. and… we, we can’t… can’t talk, chat or hang out during that time. Soo….. don’t call, and we’ll see if I call you in a month.” Yes, he was an emotional fuck wit like that. Yes, I let him get away with it. We had dated all summer, I was 19, smitten and stupid about letting him control everything.
    Anyway, I took that time to really dig deeper into Islam and find the meaning of Ramadan. I sought out other Muslims and actually fasted and prayed the last 10 days. Muslim Boi called me on Eid (go figure). We hung out a few times, but he soon went away on Holiday Break vacay with his friends, and, again, instructed me not to call in case one of his mosque pals answered. He had never let me say “this is my boyfriend” to anyone for fear that it might somehow be heard by a Muslim ear. When he returned, much to his horror, I told him I had said the shahada. He panicked. He made me swear not to tell anyone at the mosque that I knew him. God forbid anyone find out the REAL story behind him. He was terrified. It was hilarious.

    • Salams Amie!
      You know how converts always want to write books? Or people always want us to write books about being all Mooslim and stuff?

      I think we should edit a volume on all the brothers we met during our conversion period who were into the Halal Pimpin but ran skeered once they found out we were really into Islam.

      • They know what they’re doing is contrary to their religion. They only run away once they know you also know this (or anyone else could find out). Very cowardly behaviour.

        If a man is honestly interested, he will have the courage to marry you (or at least ask), rather than play these games.

        Of course then many young women think if their Muslim guy friends don’t hang out etc, it’s because they’re misogynist or afraid of women and such… 😉 It’s not easy having only Muslim friends, or striking a balance otherwise.


      • See, Brother Ali, that’s the thing: these guys aren’t honestly interested. Or they may be honestly interested in the relationship as it currently stands, but not interested in taking it further. I do think a lot of Muslim brothers have their own twisted version of the Madonna/Whore complex where born-Muslim women get treated one way and non-born Muslim women (converts or otherwise) get treated the other way. I’ve never knocked a brother for NOT wanting to hang out with me.

  3. I first heard of Ramadan guilt a couple of days before Ramadan – an American tweep came to our Cairo tweetup and mentioned that her Muslim boyfriend had enacted a sex ban during Ramadan. I found it rather hilarious.

    Now I’m a little more sympathetic to the lad than you are though. While some things aren’t related (fajr and fasting??) some are. Guy may not necessarily want to have physical relations (or wake up naked next to his girlfriend?) during daytime Ramadan, which I reckon would invalidate his fast.

    But in that case, at least, be bloody honest about things.

    People have to own up to their religious choices – be they very strict or ultra-lax, or somewhere in between.

    [As for Amie’s story, it’s quite hilarious in its own respect — and I for one would definitely buy the Halal Pimpin book!!]

    • See Mohamed, that is my point: why is extra marital sex ok during the rest of the year but not during Ramadan? He could just sleep with her after sunset 🙂 I think people should be consistent in their dealings.
      People have to own their religion, and I am tired of the holy-pious just because it is Ramadan. I think everyone should have a middle way whether it is Ramadan or not.
      And I think dumping a girl for a month to pick her up again sends the wrong idea about Islam and how Muslims practice.

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