It all started less than three months ago when Fatima – a young Muslim woman at my university – asked if I wanted to help out with this new online lifestyle magazine for Muslims and non-Muslims called Mvslim.com. I would initially work as a translator (Dutch-English) but once I got to know the site better I could write articles as well. It literally took me a few seconds to decide: yes! As a student of Arabic and English and an aspiring journalist I am constantly looking for new opportunities to meet interesting people. The format appealed to me because it was something revolutionary and exciting, and I liked the idea of a joined mission to battle ignorance.
Up until then my experience with Muslims was mostly limited to my fellow Arabic-students at the university. In secondary school I studied Latin and modern languages for four years on the countryside – literally in the middle of nowhere – so there weren’t many Muslims around, and if there were any, I didn’t know them as such. Finishing secondary school in Antwerp opened my eyes a little bit, but it was only two years later – when I studied audio-visual arts in Brussels – that I became fully aware of the existence of Muslims.
Both at school and in the streets they were well represented. Each trimester there was a screening of the students’ artistic creations, many of which chose subjects related to Arabs and/or Muslims. This got me interested so I started contemplating a career as a documentary filmmaker in the Arab world, a desire that was only strengthened by watching documentaries by the late Omar Amiralay, a Syrian filmmaker and activist. However, I didn’t feel like I knew enough about the Arabic world to start straight away, which brings us full circle to the reason why I’m studying Arabic today.
Over the past two years my Muslim friend count increased significantly – according to a quick Facebook survey I would say about one in four of my friends are Muslim, which is pretty close to the actual percentage of Muslims worldwide. Getting to know these Muslims was an overall positive experience, as I learned that we are all humans with similar desires and talents – except when they bring food to the cafeteria, then their talents are without a doubt superior! Or maybe that’s just an Arab thing…
I continued to learn about Arabic and Islamic culture during my weekly classes and through many different media – books, newspapers, films, documentaries, … – but it was all very theoretical. I was still curious about the practical side to these theories, and soon an opportunity presented itself. As we were discussing the Ramadan agenda at the first editorial meeting for Mvslim.com, I volunteered to fast for the first time in my life during the entire month of Ramadan, and to share my experiences in the form of these weekly articles. The main goal is to get to know as many perspectives on Islam as possible, so feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions.
I hope you will enjoy this journey with me; you can follow me on Instagram (leviramadan) if you want to know more about my daily discoveries. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share something with me (an event, an organization, an article, a book, some wisdom,…).
I wish you all the best and Ramadan Mubarak!