After the Brussels terrorist attacks I organized a wake with a couple of my friends. Not only to remember the victims of the attacks, but also to spread solidarity and love, and to prevent discord. When we saw that people with different origins and ages attended and found each other’s support, we knew we succeeded.
After the wake, a few of the guests suggested we create a Facebook group in order to stay in touch. Thanks to the group I started talking to a kind woman who had quite a lot of questions about Islam, the culture, and also about the way I practice my religion.
The first questions were about the habits during a Moroccan-Islamic wedding, because she wanted to be able to take into account what is allowed and what is not. She also asked me about my family’s point behaviour towards an intercultural marriage. I was glad I got these questions from her, as I believe it’s important to know the difference between culture and religion. To my best effort I tried to answer as clearly and thoroughly as possible to not disregard the true beauty of Islam. Her way of replying immediately allowed me to find out what kind of a person was sitting behind the other computer screen. A curious, open but above all understanding, tolerant, and respectful person.
As soon as we started talking about family, our conversations became more personal and profound: the origin of a virtual friendship. We still remained unknown to one another, however. During this Ramadan I was hoping to change that, as there is no better month to open your door to people. Especially since she asked me why I was looking forward to Ramadan so much and what this month actually means to me. I really wanted to let her have a taste of this beautiful month. Together with my husband I invited her, her partner, daughter and son-in-law. Just like my husband and I her daughter appeared to be in an intercultural relationship. The evening had become a pleasant mix of three Muslims and three non-Muslims!
When our guests arrived, we welcomed them with a lot of enthusiasm: everyone had clearly been looking forward to this meetup! I offered them something to drink, but out of respect they wanted to wait until sunset. During the first hour we became further acquainted and talked about the usual: work, family, holidays,… But also about my husband’s conversion.
Afterwards we sat down at the table. My husband and I are used to eating a date and start praying maghrib immediately after. I suggested they continue with harira already, but again, they offered to wait. Another kind gesture from their part.
We continued to eat, talk, and laugh. There was never any room for an uncomfortable silence, though I have to admit that rarely happens with me in the room as I’m quite the chatterbox. As the night went on, the subjects became a little heavier and more serious, yet just as more interesting: discrimination, Palestine, and other current affairs.
It was lovely to see and feel that despite of our differences in origin, religion, and age, a couple of new friendships emerged. At the end of the evening, six happy people were joined together at the table. Six people that will definitely meet up again!
How curious that such tragic event that tried to divide people had just led to the opposite.
I challenge everyone to invite strangers during Ramadan. I’m sure you will not regret it!
This article is written by Sarah El-Messaoudi Verryt.