NUSADAILY.COM – JAKARTA – Several Muslim journalists residing in the United States came together online to share their experiences and relate how they educated those around them about Ramadhan.
Sabrina Siddiqui, a White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal, said she encountered many challenges while observing Ramadhan in a country where Muslims are a minority, but she still had many pleasant experiences while fasting during the holy month.
She said she often gets lots of funny questions from her friends when she fasts during Ramadhan.
“I get big questions from friends, (like) whether during fasting I am not even allowed to drink at all? For me, that is an interesting question,” she said during an online discussion entitled ‘Ramadan and Female Muslim Journalists in US Newsrooms’, organized by the US Embassy here on Tuesday.
According to Siddiqui, although there is still a lot of Islamophobia in the US, she sees that her friends still respect her as a Muslim and the fasts she observes during Ramadhan.
“They respect me. And I think sometimes we need to tell and give understanding to them about the worship we do, because we don’t live in a predominantly Islamic country,” Siddiqui added.
She said her friends show respect for her practice of fasting during Ramadhan by not eating or drinking in front of her. Even so, she added that she would be fine even if they ate and drank in front of her.
“Even though I am fasting, I still want to accompany you to the coffee shop. But, I will not order anything there,” remarked Siddiqui.
She said she would like to use such moments as an opportunity to share her experiences with her friends and strengthen her relationship with her non-Muslim friends.
Like Sabrina, Rummana Hussain, an assistant editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, and VOA TV producer Nia Iman Santoso also said they experienced many enjoyable things while observing Ramadhan fasts in the United States.
Hussain said that even though she could not celebrate Ramadhan in the same atmosphere as in a predominantly Muslim country, she still received a lot of attention from those around her.
“When I’m in the newsroom, people sometimes feel worried about making me hungry when they eat in front of me. I say, it’s okay. Even if you eat in front of me, I’ll be fine,” she related.
Meanwhile, journalist Nia Iman Santoso said she doesn’t join her friends at the running club while fasting during Ramadhan.
“So, during Ramadhan, actually I just disappear. So, for the first year, they were curious (as to what) happened with Maria (her nickname)? Why suddenly she disappeared for a month? So, I had to explain it to them — I cannot run because I cannot eat, I cannot drink from sahur until iftar,” she explained.
“At the beginning, they really didn’t understand. But now, they know that if I disappear, they know that ‘Oh yeah, this is Ramadhan. So, Maria won’t train with us’,” she added. (sak)