“During Ramadan, rich non-Black Muslims in the diaspora reference Muslims in war-torn countries living in abject poverty to invoke feelings of guilt and gratitude for our own privileged lives. If we begin to construct Other Muslims as those we “save” this Ramadan, how are we acting as Westerners who reproduce the same exploitative power relations? How do we reduce oppressed Muslims to lessons in “suffering” when we talk about the suffering in Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, etc? The desire to know the “Other” Muslim becomes a form of consumptive empathy. When our “empathy” becomes focused on consuming other people’s pain, it can no longer be characterized as empathy; it becomes a spectacle of suffering. It only further shifts the lens to those who witness struggle versus those who must survive while in constant struggle.
So this Ramadan, as you break fast night after night over warm meals, reflect on you. Reflect on the sacredness of these nights and on the ways in which the fast spiritually nourishes you. Realize that the fast is not an experiment for you to temporarily feel guilt for causing others to live in poverty. Realize that fasting is never intended to be a poverty simulation game.”