Thursday, October 11, 2007

"I can't wait till Ramadan is over."

Tonight my wife said something to me at dinner that put a big smile on my face. Now, if you know my wife, you know that this isn't unusual. She is genetically pre-disposed to be intentionally and unintentionally hilarious. This time, though I wasn't smiling at a funny face, dinner table fart or a slip of the tongue. My wife turned to me and said, "I can't wait until Ramadan is over." Two of her lunch buddies are Muslims who are observing Ramadan, and thus not eating lunch. She misses them. It's not bizarre, unexplainable, or funny. It's really not at all unusual, or at least it shouldn't be. It shouldn't be any more unusual than a non-Jew commenting on someone's absence on account of Yom Kippur. Millions of Muslims live in the United States, and they have friends who aren't Muslims. They interact with these friends in the same way as Christians and Jews, or Catholics and Methodists. We don't hear enough about those kinds of interactions, though. And, not enough of us have them. Otherwise, no one would assume that all Muslim women are oppressed, or see a Muslim man praying on a plane and ask the flight attendant to remove him. There is just no substitute for personal experience. A lunch buddy is always going to be more effective in breaking down people's prejudices and misconceptions than an article in the New York Times. And it's happening. This country would be a hell of a lot better off if more people's lunch plans were being ruined by Ramadan.

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