We Asked Young Muslims in Paris About Ramadan
The challenges of fasting in the West
Sarah Ben Romdane
The holy month of Ramadan—a time when Muslims come together, endure daily fasting and take stock of their lives—is actually a month of festivities in the Muslim world. Families and friends gather every evening for Iftar and meet again for Suhoor in the early morning.
But in the West, Ramadan is a different, sometimes even an isolating experience, especially for younger demographics. This year, Muslims have to wait until 10pm to break their fast in France. While 59 percent of French Muslims age 18-44 year-old observed the month of fasting in the late 1980s, there is now over 73 percent of them fasting. But with a rise of Islamophobia, a slew of young muslims have been lead to feel more stigmatised and marginalised from the community.
MILLE caught with six young Muslims in Paris to find out what they find hard about doing Ramadan.
Ibticem Larbi, 21, graphic design and illustration student
“The most difficult thing during Ramadan is being on your own. Despite the fact that my family fasts, I spend the most part of my day outside and no one can relate to what I’m doing.”
Malick Tandjigora, 23, fine art student
“The hardest thing to me is, having to slow down my rhythm and deal with boredom. Usually, I’m always out but during Ramadan, I spend more time at home chilling with my family. It’s really a challenge of self-control. Another dilemma I face is whether I should eat a lot during Iftar, go to bed and feel hungry the next day, or stay awake until Suhoor, eat well but feel tired the next day. I usually stay awake so I can do my prayer at dawn.”
Manon Magnez, 20, illustration student
“My experience is really personal and singular as I’m a convert. My family hasn’t accepted my conversion to Islam at all and it’s really oppressing. Sometimes they’ll try to force me to eat. I really feel lonely, but in my own home. Luckily, I have a Muslim friend who invites me at her place and her mom gives me doggy bags.”
Khalil Lotfi, 23, management student
“During Ramadan, I miss my grandmother’s home-cooked food and playing cards with my cousins all night long. Here, I break my fast with friends in restaurants and kebab shops, but it’s not the same feeling.”
Leila Nour Johnson, 27, fashion designer
“The hardest thing about Ramadan is going through the rituals on my own, as my family isn’t here. Also, I find it hard not going out anymore and socialising. It’s a lonely experience, but in my case, I don’t see the loneliness as negative: doing Ramadan is a conscious choice and a personal relationship between my faith and I.”
Sekou Camara, 26, communications student
“For me, the challenge is keeping myself busy. When I’m doing things I forget about hunger and thirstiness. Trust me, if you’re unemployed, Ramadan must be so hard! Yesterday, I took pictures all afternoon and it was okay. Exercising during Ramadan and reading books are the two things I struggle doing while fasting.”
Photography by Sarah Ben Romdane