Ramadan is an opportunity to learn about Islam

One of the humbling things about getting older is realizing how much I don’t know. Take today, for example. A very important religious observance began at dawn. Do you know what it is?

The answer is Ramadan, a month of fasting that is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

I don’t remember learning anything about Islam when I was little. As a white kid growing up in the 1980s, I was taught a lot of things in public schools, but religious history wasn’t one them.

I made Muslim friends in college and read a little bit of the Quran for class, but I was still very ignorant — and didn’t realize it. It wasn’t that I was hateful or anything, I just couldn’t have told you what Islam was about.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, a lot of Americans were probably like me. Then afterward, we were still ignorant about Islam, but at least we finally realized it.

I want to be an open-minded, open-hearted person and I want my kids to be well-educated, too. According to Pew Research Center, Muslims make up more than 23 percent of the world’s population. So over the years I’ve collected books about Islam to read to my children.

My favorite is Rukhsana Khan’s “Muslim Child: Understanding Islam through Stories and Poems,” which is an engaging primer. Khan writes that it is very insulting to mistakenly call Muslims “Moslems.” A Moslem is someone who is unjust. A Muslim is somebody who seeks to live in peace with God. She says the correct pronunciation is “moo-slim.”

The “Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions” defines Islam as obedience to God and Muslims as the followers of Islam. This book shares the wonderful Islamic saying: “Trust in God — but tie your camel first.”

Demi, from Carnation, created a beautiful book called “Muhammad” that explains about the man Muslims believe is the Messenger of God. Muhammad taught that all people, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic class, should be treated with respect.

All three of these titles have lots of other facts, as well. For some reason, however — maybe since I’m learning all of this as an adult — this information has a hard time sticking. It’s like a giant locomotive barreling through my mind with no train track to grip.

So here’s Ramadan explained for me one more time. From dawn to sunset during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslim adults eat and drink nothing. They also do as many good deeds as possible. In the evenings, they break their fast with dates and a special meal called iftar. This year, Ramadan continues until Eid al Fitr, on July 29.

Whenever I read about Ramadan, I am inspired by my Muslim friends’ faith and dedication. I am sorry it took so long for this Christian to pay attention.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

More in Life

Using a rod to assist in running wiring through an attic space, Don Thomas, of R&D Handyman Service, works on installing a ceiling fan at a home in SE Everett on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
                                Don Thomas of R&D Handyman Service installs a ceiling fan at a home in southeast Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
When fall chores loom, just hand them to the handyman

Here are three local businesses that can help you prepare your home for the rainy season.

And this year’s winners of Everett’s Monte Cristo Awards are…

The awards recognize local homeowners and businesses that take special care of their properties.

‘Happy Death Day’ applies ‘Groundhog Day’ premise on horror genre

Smart writing and Jessica Rothe’s performance make this worth seeing.

Adventurer 1st to finish Race to Alaska on stand-up paddleboard

Karl Kruger will speak about his trip at the Everett Mountaineers Banquet on Nov. 4 in Lynnwood.

Therapy helped ease debilitating pain after injury

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley shares her experiences with complex regional pain syndrome.

How to prune a hydrangea: An exception to the pruning rule

It helps to think of a growing blackberry vine when you’re about to cut back this blooming shrub.

Visiting Germany’s Lutherland, birthplace of Reformation

The sights include the church where the first Protestant service took place in 1521.

Can you top ‘Hamilton’? Author Ron Chernow is about to find out

The notable writer’s latest book, published Oct. 10, is a lengthy biography on Ulysses S. Grant.

Most Read